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made the most considerable figure all the time of her reign, and in every part of her dominions, which, as we there observed, were of very great extent.
She had been brought up in their religion, and was a zealous professor of it. Both she and her husband were become so successful and powerful over those eastern tracts, they carried all before them; so that there is no room to doubt of the Jews making the most of the favour and protection of two such powerful friends. She, in particular, is recorded to have built them a great number of stately synagogues, and to have raised them to the highest dignities. Her fad fate, however, soon put an end to all her glory and their happiness, unless we will suppose, that her son Va.ba.llat, who succeeded her in some part of her old dominions, was of the fame religion with her, and shewed the fame favour and encouragement to them; tho' even in this cafe, which is not altogether certain, all he could do for them must come vastly short of what his mother had done. After the fall of that great heroine, the Jews retired from her conquered dominions into several cities of Persia, where they were likely to live more qujedy, and where there still flourished several of their learned men, some of them chiefly famed for the most puerile actions; such as that of the celebrated Chija, who flung himself into a smoaking oven or furnace to subdue his lust, after he had tried in vain variety of other means. The noble academy of Nahardea having undergone the fame fate with that city, that of Sora became the most populous and famed for its great, men (K).
It was during the time of prosperity and glory abovementioned, that we find the Jewish doctors began to take variety of pompous titles; such as those of Abba Father, Baal.Lord, Rom High, Rab Master, Mor Teacher, Rojh Chief or Head, and the like. Among them was a famed doctor named Jeremiah, who stiled himself the Master of Questions; and, to
(K) Among them was the which he enjoyed til an. 300;
learned R. Zira, sirnamed Ka- when, having conceived a de
lana (both which signify little), fire of being interred in Judea,
who had gone to study at that he chose to go thither in his
of Tiberias, but had been in- life-time, rather than have his
vited to Sora by Huna, the body transported thither after
then chief of the captivity, who his death (26).
(16) Gtntx. ub. /«/>. Btrt. virga,® *l. iih.sup.
N 4 mortify mortify the Babylonish doctors, made his wife hold frequent disputes against them s. They flourished about the year 290; but the most famed among them was Manes, a person of, great learning, but who could by no means be reconciled to the religion, or even God, of the Jews; nor to what the sacred historians record, of his ordering that nation to destroy and exterminate such great number of kingdoms and people, and preferred that of the Christians, who commended nothing so much as universal love and benignity. He is said to have held frequent conferences with the Jewish doc'tors of Persia, in order to inspire them, as he pretended, with more worthy ideas of the Godhead. Our modem rabbies do not acknowlege any such conferences between their ancestors and him, whom they have noted in their calendar as the head of that new sect, which still bears his name, and which they absurdly place towards the close of Con/lantine's reign, tho' he lived about the end of this third century. The persecution which was raised against the Christians about the fame time, under Dioclestan, did not much affect the Jewish nation either in the east or west; at least, neither Jcwi/h or any other authors mention any thing of it: only the former pretend, that he designed to have made them feel the severest marks of his resentment for some scandalous reflexions which the disciples of Judah the •faint had cast on him; but that they found means to appease him and prevent It (L), But it is now time to pass on to the 4th century, and see how they fared under the Christian emperors. Jews in We have had occasion already to mention some severe laws the \tb which Constantine was forced to enact, to suppress the inso((iitury, lence of the Je^vs against the Christians; and,to forbid them making of proselytes, and abusing those who embraced Christianity. But some historians have gone farther, and made that prince a very severe persecutor of them; insomuch that one of the Greek fathers tells us, that, being shocked at their astem
* Bartoloc. ub. sup. torn. ili.
(L) They upbraided him, it been made to that prince, that
seems, withhaving been a swine- he lhould ascend the throne
herd, but appeased his resent- when he had killed Apcr (the
ment with telling him, that bpar) ; meaning Aper the Pre
tho' they despised the swine- stilus Prætorii, whose death
herd, they reverenced the em- opened to him the way to the
peror. This story seems founded empire, as hath been shewn in
en the prediction which had thatpartoftheÆ«w«»histDry(t).
(f) See Aft. ffisi. vol, Xt, f, 484, Q /«».
bling themselves in order to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, he condemned them to have their ears cut off, and to be dispersed like vile slaves through all the parts of the empire '. whether And another writer adds, that he obliged them to be bap- persecuted tized, and to eat swine's flesh on Easier-day ". All this how- b Conever is wholly rejected by the generality of the moderns, and Cantine, not without good reasons; which the reader may fee in the margin (M). His design was neither to persecute them, nor to force them to turn Christians, but to prevent that liberty which was granted to them from being abused, to the detriment or disgrace of Christianity. In consequence of which, he enacted a law six months before his death, declaring all those slaves free which had by any means been circumcised by their Jewish masters (N). He farther ordered, that they^ÆTO should be obliged to serve all public offices like all the other gainst subjects of the empire; which was but right they should ; them. but yet exempted their patriarchs, priests, and others, that officiated at their synagogues, schools, &c. from them, that
1 Chrysost. Orat. in Jud. i p. 466.
(M) The Jews themselves all own, that it was Adrian, and not Conftantine, who ordered their ears to be cut off; and this is also confirmed by the Arabic historian (27). Besides, we have elsewhere seen, that Jerusalem was already rebuilt in Constantine'i time; insomuch, that the bishop of it had assisted at the Nicene councils; and Constantine had adorned that city with such magnificent edifices, that Eusebius compliments him on it as the builder of the New Jerusalem foretold by the prophets (28). How then could the Jews assemble themselves in a riotous manner to rebuild that city, which was already done in so stately a manner? We may add further, that, among all the edicts of that prince against the Jews, as are preserved in
the Theodostan code, there is not
(N) Eusebius, who could not
they might not be thereby diverted from those necestary Decree of employments w. But the council of Elvira in Spain, which the Elvi- is commonly placed under this reign, made two decrees which ran coun- were more severe against them; by the first of which, they "'•' were excluded from eating with Christians, as they had commonly done till then; and, though the penalty fell only on the Christians, who were excommunicated by it for eating with a Jew, yet it put the latter to very great inconveniences, and made them liable to insults and contempt. By the other, all posleflbrs of lands were forbidden, under the fame penalty, to suffer the fruits of the earth to be blessed by Jews, because their blessing rendered that of the Christians abortive. This custom of blessing the fruits of the earth at certain seasons was common to Pagans and Jews, as well as Christians; but who would have imagined, that the latter should have made use of either of the former, if this decree had not informed 'us of it. However, both this and the other decree plainly shew, that the Jews had lived very peaceably in Spain, and in good harmony with the Christians, till then, whatever they may have done since.
They enjoyed no less a benign sunshine in the east; and
their academies went on in a flourishing manner, if we except
the persecution which was raised against one of their greatest
Famous doctors, the famed Ravena or Rabba Nachmanides, chief of
rabbies of the academy of Sora, and a person in such esteem, that he
the east, had no less than twelve thousand disciples under him * (O).
("} Cod. Theodos. lib. xvir torn. viii. cap. ii. x Gantz Tzemach, et al. ub. sup. Lib. Cabal, p. 61. b.
(O) There were two famed ment on Genesis, giving an acfabbies of that name , the one count of the Creadon, and a distinguished by the title of Ha- description of the Holy Land, tokadmon, or the Elder, who flou- gether with the literal and mysrifhed about, A. C. 322, and tical sense of that sacred book the Acharon, or Younger, who (30), and hath been often quoted lived about, an. 474. We are in this work, especially in the now speaking of the elder, who J*<wift> history. There is anwas a man of such profound other treatise of the same name, learning, and so dexterous at which must not therefore be conremoving the greatest difficul- founded with it, and which is a ties, that they gave him the ti- comment on the Mijbna, writtie of Snn Ipty. Hoktr Ha- ten by R. Hojhianghia, a discirim, the remover of mountains. ^ of 7ffh HModeJh, but less His chief work is the Berejbitb esteemed than the formerRat bah, which is a learned com
(lo) Vii. Btrttloc. ub. sup. Wolf. Bill Hair, sub Rat. Ben. Nacbnun. & Xabetb. vid. £f Lib. Cabtel. f. 61. b.
This person, after having taught a considerable time at that city, was at length accused os some very high crime to the Icing of Persia; for -which he thought fit, to avoid farther prosecution, to abscond; and either died in his retreat, as some affirm, or was banished by that monarch, according to others, and died in exile (P). What this crime was we are ,
not told ; but it was not attended with any ill consequence towards the nation, nor even to his family, since we find him succeeded in the same academy by his own nephew of the fame name, whom he had adopted into it(QJ. This last had made such progress under him, that he was chosen chief of the academy of Pundebita, so early as an. 324 ; and had Continued in it till an. 329, when he married, and had a son known by the name of Rab-bibi. The university of Sora had another famed professor, namely, Joseph, surnamed the Blind, Joseph for so he was; yet he had so great a share of inward light, that the Blind he was1 styled, Saghi Nahor, or Great Light. They gave his works. him likewise that of Sinai, because he was a perfect master of all the traditions given to Moses on that holy mountain. He is commonly supposed to be the author of the Chaldee paraphrases upon some of the Hagiographa, such as the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiasles, Ruth, and Esther, which are held in great esteem among the Jews and Christians; at least one would think so by the number of editions which that book has had, though too much fraught with fables and subtleties.
The last thing worth mentioning, relating to the Jews, Jews raise under the reign of Constantine (R), is the bloody persecution a fersecu
they tian »•
(P) Some tell us, that Sapor empress dowager had a different
had actually condemned him to effect on the Persian king, who
death, but that his mother got contented himself with banish
him reprieved, by sending him ing him for life,
wife had formerly done to that that he gave him the name of
judge; viz. Have nothing to do "3N, Absi; First, Because he
•with that righteous man, for had taken him as an orphan out
/ have suffered many things in a of charity into his house. And,
dream by reason of him ( 31 ). 2dly, Because he should not be
Whether the Thalmudists have confounded hereafter with him,
stolen this story from the gospel, that is, the disciple with his
or have invented it out of their master.
own heads, we will not deter- (R) It may not be perhaps
mine I32). But if there be any altogether impertinent to this
truth in it, the message of the history of the Jews under this
(»i J Matt, xxvii. 19. (3*) Vii. Vgbtftot, Hor, tbulmftd, in Matt, xxv>i.
'» * reign,