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land of Canaan. To the same sanctuary were consigned, as they were successively produced, the other sacred books, which were written before the building of the temple at Jerusalem. And when Solomon had finished the temple, he directed that these books should be removed into it; and also, that the future compositions of inspired men should be secured in the same holy place (k). We may therefore conclude, that the respective works of Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Joel, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, and Obadiah, all of whom flourished before the Babylonian captivity, were regularly deposited in the temple. Whether these manuscripts perished in the flames, when the temple was burnt by Nebuchadnezzar, we are not informed. But as the burning of the Scriptures is not lamented by any of the contemporary or succeeding prophets, and as the other treasures of the temple were preserved and set apart as sacred by Nebuchadnezzar, it is probable that these autographs also were saved; and more especially, as it does not appear that Nebuchadnezzar had any particular enmity against the religion of the Jews. If however the original books were destroyed with the temple, it is
(k) Epiphanius de Pond. et Mens. cap. 4. Gray's Introd. Jenkin, part 2. ch.9.
certain that there were at that time numerous copies of them; and we cannot doubt but some of them were carried by the Jews to Babylon, and that others were left in Judea. The holy Scriptures were too much reverenced, and too much dispersed, to make it credible that all the copies were lost or destroyed; and indeed we find Daniel, when in captivity (1), referring to the book of the Law as then existing; and soon after the captivity, Ezra not only read and explained the Law to the people (m), but he restored the public worship and the sacrifices according to the Mosaic ritual; and therefore there must have been, at that time, at least a correct copy of the Law; for it is impossible to believe that he would have attempted the re-establishment of a church in which the most minute observance of the rites and ceremonies prescribed by Moses was not only absolutely necessary for the acceptable performance of divine worship, but the slightest deviation from which was considered as sacrilege orabomination, unless he had been in actual possession either of the original manuscript of the law (n), or of a copy so well authenticated as to leave no doubt of its accuracy in the minds of the people.
(l) Dan. c. 9. v. 11 & 13.
(n) “The very old Egyptians used to write on linen, things which they designed should last long; and B4
There is an uncontradicted tradition in the Jewish church, that about fifty years after the temple was rebuilt, Ezra, in conjunction with
the those characters continue to this day, as we are assured by those who have examined the mummies with attention. So Maillet tells us, that the filleting, or rather the bandage (for it was of considerable length) of a mummy, which was presented to him, and which he had opened in the house of the Capuchin Monks of Cairo, was not only charged from one end to the other with hieroglyphical figures, but they also found certain unknown characters written from the right hand towards the left, and forming a kind of verses. These, he supposed, contained the eulogium of the person, whose this body was, written in the language which was used in Egypt in the time in which she lived: that some part of this writing was afterwards copied by an engraver in France, and these papers sent to the virtuosi through Europe, that if possible they might decypher them; but in vain. Might not a copy of the law of Moses, written after this manner, have lasted eight hundred and thirty years ? Is it unnatural to imagine that Moses, who was learned in all the arts of Egypt, wrote after this manner on linen? And doth not this supposition perfectly well agree with the accounts we have of the form of their books, their being rolls, and of their being easily cut in pieces with a knife, and liable to be burned ? It should seem, the linen was first primed or painted all over before they began to write, and consequently would have been liable to crack if folded. We are told the use of the papyrus was not known till after Alexandria was built. Skins might do for records, but not for books, unless prepared like parchment, of which we are
the Great Synagogue, made a collection of the sacred writings () which had been increased,
since assured Eumenes was the inventor, in the second century before Christ. Ink or paint must have been used to write on linen, and pens must have been reeds or canes, like those now used in Persia, which agrees better with the Hebrew word we render pen.” Harmer's Observ. vol. i.--Nearchus, who accompanied Alexander in his expedition into India, says, that the Indians "write on linen or cotton cloth, and that their character is beautiful.” Arrian, 717.
(o) “What the Jews call the great synagogue were a number of elders, amounting to 120, who succeeding some after others, in a continued series, from the return of the Jews again into Judea, after the Babylonish captivity to the time of Simon the Just, laboured in the restoring of the Jewish church and state in that country; in order whereto, the holy Scriptures being the rule they were to go by, their chief care and study was to make a true collection of those Scriptures, and publish them accurately to the people. Ezra, and the men of the great synagogue that lived in his time, completed this work as far as I have said; and as to what remained farther to be done in it, where can we better place the performing of it, and the ending and finishing of the whole thereby, than in that time when those men of the great synagogue ended, that were employed therein, that is, in the time of Simon the Just, who was the last of them?” Prideaux, part 1. book 8. It is also generally admitted that Ezra transcribed the Scriptures in the Chaldaic or square letters, which we now call Hebrew, and which from the long residence of the Jews in Babylon, were then better understood
since the Jews were carried into captivity, by the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and the prophecies of Ezekiel, of Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah; and as Ezra was himself inspired, we may rest assured, that whatever received his sanction, was authentic.
To this genuine collection, which, according to former custom, was placed in the temple, were afterwards annexed the sacred compositions of Ezra himself, as well as those of Nehemiah and Malachi, which were written after the death of Ezra. This addition, which was probably made by Simon the Just,
the than the antient Hebrew or Phænician characters. When the Jewish church was re-established after the captivity, a rule was made to erect a synagogue in every place where there were ten persons of full age and free condition always ready to attend the service of it, ten being thought necessary to make a congre-, gation; and it is said that Ezra himself distributed 300 copies of the Law for the use of these synagogues. The service performed in the synagogues was, prayer (for which they had a liturgy,) reading and expounding the Scriptures, and preaching. The Pentateuch was divided into sections, that the whole might be read in the course of a year. When the reading of the Law was prohibited by Antiochus Epiphanes, they read the Prophets instead of the Law, to evade the penalty of death ; but as soon as they were freed from his tyranny, they read both the Law and the Prophets every Sabbath, and have continued to do so ever since : but the prayers now in use are different from the antient liturgies. Vide Prideaux.