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400 books; by which is not meant that he either was the
the style, and the beautiful order in which he hach ranged them. As to the Babylonijh Tbalmud, there is as much difference of opinions about the time in which it was finished, as about that of 'Jerusalem. The Jcius have greatly antedated it, as they do molt of their own books; and the Christians were so little acquainted with ft before St. Jerotns time, that we can come at no certainty from either. Marinus hath given it the latest date of any writer, and offered several very probable reasons for"his opinion, that it was not finished till the year 700 (18). But as it would be, doubtless, out of our province, as well as swell this note to too great a bulk, were we to enter into a farther detail of this matter, we shall content ourselves with referring such of our readers as are curious about that point, to the authors quoted in the margin for a farther account of it (19).
No less is the difference of opinions concerning the book itself. We have seen what esteem the Jews have for it; some Christians come very little short of them, who, not content to look upon it as an inexhaustible mine of divine treasures, (from the search of which, nothing but the most carnal indolence, or too world
ly pride and self-sufficiency, deters the learned) go even so far as to insinuate, that there is nothing grand or sublime in the sayings of Christ or his apostles but what they fetched from that divine fountain; insomuch that they will even affirm,.that not only the finest parables and allegories of the gospel, but even the Lord's prayer, are taken from theTbalmud. If you ask them how they could have these from a book published so long after their time? they will answer, that they were conveyed by tradition from one doctor to another, and taught in their schools many years before, tho' not committed to writing till then f. On the other hand, one meets with a quite different sort of men, who, running into the opposite extreme, condemn the book as detestable and dangerous, fit only to be flung into the flames. But those pass the more equitable judgment, who, jsvithout exaggerating its authority, can yet make use of it in order to explain the sacred writings, and the ancient rites and religious ceremonies of the Jews: and this is what we have endeavoured to do in several parts of this work, as far as we could find it,of any service; and, as we have reason to hope, to very
author, or even transcriber, of so many volumes; but only
good purpose, and to the satisfaction of such of our readers who have not suffered themselves to be carried away into either extreme f. However, as we have taken upon us to observe, that it is fraught with many absurd and puerile notions we shall now close this rote with a few instances of it to serve our readers as a speci-> men of the rest.
Nothing can be more absurd, and even impious, than what they tell us of the Deity's passing his time away before the creation, in making and annihilating of a number of worlds, by way of essay, till he had found out the way of making one to his mind, which is that we live in: his creating of the two monsters of Henoc and Leviathan on the fifth day, the former of whom was sent to range on the earth, and hath the grass of a thousand mountains to supply him with food; and the other confined to the sea till the day of Judgment, when it is to be killed,tomakea feast for all the elect : his creating the male and female Behemoth, and killing and salting the latter for the same banquet: Adam having being created an hermaphrodite, and trying in vain to assuage his lust with all the other animals, and fixing at length upon Eve. These, and many more of the like nature, which a modest Jeiv one would think must be ashamed of, are yet swallowed down by the vulgar; whilst
some of the more sensible of them pretend that those stories are allegorical, and contain such sublime mysteries as none but their greatest saints can be able or fit to attain.
What can be more childish, as well as prophane, than the story of the fly rabbi, who is there reported to have cheated God and the devil, by praying to the latter to carry him up to the gate of heaven, when, having once beheld the glory of the place, and happiness of the saints, he might die more easy and quiet; and having obtained his request, and found it luckily opened, gave himself a spring, and jumped into it, and swore by its great God, that he would never come out of it; wherejjy God was obliged to let him stay there rather than make him forswear himself.
Many of the rabbinic decisions are also found there no less ludicrous and absurd; as when it introduces two women disputing in the synagogues, about the use which a husband may lawfully make of them; and the rabbies answer positively that he may safely use them as he pleases; and for this reason, that as a man that buys a fish may eat either the fore or hind part, as he likes best, so, &c. They are sometimes contradictory to each other; as when, instead of endeavouring to reconcile or remove the manifest opposition, they make a voice from heaven do it, by pronouncing both decisions
that he copied some sentences out of each: for we are told, that even the transcribing of a sentence out of Deuteronomy, v. 9. doth entitle one to the title of having wrote that book n. Both those disciples received the imposition of hands from their master, and both were chiefs of the academy of Tiberias, to the great mortification of one of their school-fellows, named Sceman Bar-Abba, who almost broke his heart for not being raised to that dignity.
0 Bartoloc torn. iii. p. 673.
right. We shall pass by some of those which are chiefly levelled against Christians, which not only oblige the J emus to curse them in their prayers, morning and night, but encourage ihe greatest inhumanities against them. It is indeed to be hoped that those who are living under the protection of our mild government, will look upon themselves as less bound to such uncharitable precepts, and we may fay, in some measure, so contrary to the Mosaic law; but how much the authority of the Tbctmud is to be preferred to that, may appear' from the following story taken out of it, and with which we (hall close this note. It is as follows:
A certain heathenish king, named Pirgandicus, having invited eleven of the most celebrated Jpwijh doctors to sup with him, and received them wiih a suitable magnificence, put it to their choice whether thry would feed upon some swine's flesh, or have carnal conversation with pagan women, or to drink wine chat had been offered to idols; after mature deliberation, they chose the last, as being only forbid
den by their doctors; whereas the two former were so by the law. Accordingly the king obliged them with some excellent wine, consecrated to the gods, of which they drank" very freely. The table, which, stood upon a hinge, being turned about, and covered with swine's flesh, they fell to it without further enquiry; and, after a full meal, being also well heated with wine, they were conducted to bed, where they found such handsome women as they were not proof against ; and it was not till after a found sleep that they became sensible of their gradual violation of the law, in that threefold manner. As a punishment for it they died all within the year, and of a sudden death, for having transgressed the precepts of their doctors; thinking that they might more safely do it than break the written law. And accordingly the Mijhnab pronounces them more guilty who transgress the words of their wife men, than those wha transgress the words of the written law (20). And R. Eleazer, being questioned by his dis-. ciples upon his death bed about the surest way to life, answered,
Jews in Hitherto the Jews had lived in peace and happiness, danger un- but were like to have suffered a most dreadful persecution <fcrHelio- in the reign of Hdiogabalus. That whimsical prince, it gabalus; feems, caused himself to be circumcised, and abstained from swines flesh, out of devotion to his gods; and this he had probably learned from some Jews, in whose neighbourhood he had been brought up, and with whom his family, particularly his aunt Mammea, was very intimate. All this, however, could not have saved them from his fury, had he not been assassinated by his soldiers, before he could bring his mad project about, of making his god Heliogabalus, as Lampridius tells us he designed to have done, the only object ■» of men's worship all over his Empire; for the Jews would have suffered the severest persecutions rather than have joined in it. But this danger was soon over, and they began again to feel the effects of peace under the empire of his successor. Inhighfa- The mild disposition of Alexander Severus, joined to the -vour with prejudices he had imbibed in his youth, in favour of that Alexan- nation and of their religion (E), made him shew so much der Seve- favour towards them, that the then wits used to give him the title of Archifynagogue of Syria. He was no less an admirer of the Christians, and imitated the method of both, of
Turn away your children from
the two Tbalmuds, and of their authority among the Jews.
(E) That prince had received such a strong tincture of Judaism from his mother Mammea, that tho' he never forsook the worship of the heathen gods, yet he had adopted into their number Abraham, the father of the faithful and patriarch of the Jews, and would have done the fame by Jesus Christ. This, indeed, was a strange medley of religion, and seems to have been a kind of refinement on Heliogabalus''% wild project, only with this difference, that Stverus forbore all kind of violence, and strove to promote it by mild and gentle means. As to the title of Syrian Archi-synagogue, it was given him as being a native of that province, and on account of his singular fa> vour to the Jews *. *v. /. 358, » (N>
proclaiming, proclaiming the names of those officers whom he set over his provinces, as those did by their chiefs and bishops, to the end that those under them might have it in their power to accuse them, when their behaviour deserved it. He was no less fond of the negative maxim common to Christians and Jews, which he often repeated, of not doing that to others which we would not have done to ourselves: but he seems to have been ignorant of that positive and more excellent one, peculiar to Christ and his disciples, Whatsoever ye -would that men should do unto you, do ye also unto them, or else it is not to be doubted but he would have given it the preference. <
His successors suffered the Jews to live in peace and full liber- Peaceable ty, particularly Philip, who, being born in Arabia, had been un^er hit conversant With, and was a great favourer of them, as vrz\\succeJsors* as of the Christians, and, in whose time the famed St. Cyprian wrote his treatise of Testimohies, in which he mentions avast number of prophecies which were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Among the Jews flourished the famed R. Scesciah, who, Learned tho' blind, became famed for his learning, and held several rabbies in disputes against the Christians, and particularly opposed their '"'•'ccn" praying towards the East. They attribute two works to 'ar-vhim; one a cabalistical exposition of the Sephiroth, the manuscript of which was kept in the library c f Heidelberg; and the other a Targum, or paraphrase on the sacred books P. As Decius raised a persecution against the Christians, out of spleen to Philip who had protected them, some have thought that the Jews bore a share in it; but, as the difference between the Christians and the Jews was better known by this time than it had been formerly, it is more likely these escaped it. That which raged afterwards in Valerian's reign against the Christians, hath been thought by some to have been in a great measure owing to the Jews; and Dionysus of Alexandria- tells us, that that prince was stirred up to it by the archisynagogue of Egypt. But it is probable that our author hath given that title to the chief of the magicians, out of hatred to the Jews; for it was really an Egyptian magician that induced him to it, and it doth not appear that the Jews had any hand in it.
We have now gone thro' the history of the western Jews Eastern during the three first centuries, it is now time to pass over Jews, the Euphrates, and give some account of the eastern ones; their fate. of their princes or chiefs; of their captivity 5 their aca
P Saohi Nahor ap. Bartoloc. Bibl. Rabb.
Mod. Hist. Vol.. XIII. N demies,