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them both alike: but in process of time, the latter came to have much the preference of the former; for an opinion arose, which afterwards universally prevailed, that the written law was in many places obscure, scanty, and defective, and could be no perfect rule to them without the oral law, which supplied its defects, and solved all its difficulties. Hence it was, that they observed the written law no otherwise than as it was interpreted by the oral law; verifying thereby our Saviour's observation, “That they made the commandment of God of none effect, by their traditions." Such is the account which the ancient Jews gave of the origin of their traditions, and something like this is entertained by the Jews even of the present day. But when we lay aside their high-sounding pretensions, and examine the matter impartially, we readily find that these favourite traditions can boast of no such divine original, for that the circumstance which gave rise to them was shortly this: After the death of Simeon the Just, which happened in the year before Christ 292, there arose a class of men called by the Jews “The Mishnical doctors," from the Chaldaic word “ Shanah,” which signifies to deliver by tradition, who made it their business to study and descant upon the traditions which had been received and allowed by Ezra, and the members of the great synagogue (as the one in which he presided was called,) and to draw inferences of their own from them; all which descants and inferences they engrafted into the stock of the ancient traditions, in order to obtain for them an equal authority. But this liberty, which the first Mishnical doctors took, did not die with them; for every successor in office always thought himself wise enough to add something of his own, till the traditions of the elders became a burden almost impossible for memory to bear. Thus matters stood in the time of



our Saviour; and they always became worse till the end of the second century, when, as a matter of necessity, it was judged proper to commit them to writing, and the honour was assigned to Rabbi Judah, the son of Simeon, head of the school, and president of the Sanhedrim, which were then at Tiberias, the sanctity of whose life was so generally acknowledged, that he had obtained the appellation of “Hakedush,” or “ Holy.” Nor do they seem to have fixed upon an improper person; for the Mishnah (nivo 700 seper meshniuth, or book of traditions) which he wrote, consequence

of this application, was instantly received with great veneration by the Jews, in all their dispersions, and commented upon by the learned, both in Judea and Babylon.

After the Mishna, the next book to be mentioned is

5. The Gemara, or supplement to the Mishna. There are two productions known by that name, those of Jerusalem and Babylon. They were both written in the Chaldee language, as being the best understood by the Jews, and are intended as commentaries on the Mishna.

The 6th book we shall mention is the Talmud. This is nothing else than the Mishna and Gemara united, like the text and its commentary. Accordingly, as there were two Gemaras, so there are two Talmuds, the Jerusalem and the Babylonish. The Jerusalem Talmud, consisting of the Mishna and Jerusalem Gemara, was written about A.D. 300; but it was considered imperfect, because containing the opinions of only a few of the Rabbins of that place; the Jews, therefore, at Babylon, endeavoured to supply the defect, and completed a larger one, about 200 years after, which is much preferred. This Babylonish Talmud, consisting of the Mishna, and Babylonish Gemara, was always in manuscript, till A.D. 1646, when it was published at Amsterdam in ten volumes : but the best edition is in six volumes, by Gul. Surenhusius, with notes by Maimonides and Bartenora, at Amsterdam, A.D. 1698.

a See a full account of this Oral law in Prideaux Connect. A.A.C.446; and a minute analysis of the Mishna, with the authors who have translated it into Latin, in the list of Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Arabic authors at the end of Spencer, De Legib. Hebr. Ritual.

7. The Targum is the Chaldee paraphrase on the Old Testament, or written law, as the Talmud is the paraphrase on the Oral law or traditions. It received its origin from the seventy years' captivity at Babylon, where the Jews learned the language of their masters : for, having returned home, they were better acquainted with the Chaldee than the Hebrew; and, therefore, Ezra and the other priests read the Scriptures in Hebrew, and explained them in Chaldaic. There are three paraphrases of peculiar note, viz. Onkelos on the Law, Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the prophets, and Joseph Cæcus on the Hagiographa. Others say, Onkelos on the Law, and Akila on the Prophets and Hagiographa. The style of Onkelos is simple, and resembling the Scriptures.

He is said to have lived about the time of our Saviour. Jonathan Ben Uzziel was a disciple of Hillel the Elder, who was forty years old at the return from Babylon. But we hear nothing of Cæcus. Spencer makes Onkelos and Jonathan contemporaries with Hillel and Shammai, whose different opinions on many subjects the Talmud records. There is, however, internal evidence in the Targum, to believe it to have been written after A.D. 570, for it mentions the city of Constantinople in Num. xxiv. 19. 24., and Lombardy and Italy in Num. xxiv. 24. Now Constantinople was not known by that name till A.D. 328, when Constantine the Great removed the seat of his empire from Rome to

it; and the Lombards did not obtain the dominion of Italy till A.D. 570.*

8. Aben Ezra (x114 13x Aben ozra) wrote a Commentary on the Old Testament in Hebrew: he is reckoned among the most learned of the Rabbins. His commentary is literal; but, by labouring to be concise, he hath become obscure. He was born at Toledo, in Spain, lived at Rome and Rhodes, and died at Rhodes A.D. 1165.

9. Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon, or Maimonides, called also Rambam, from the initials of his name, was born at Cordova in Spain, about A.D. 1131, lived long in Egypt as a physician, and died there A.D. 1208. Few authors are more frequently quoted than he. He wrote on most of the subjects contained in the Talmud, and is reckoned the most rational and systematic of their writers.

10. The last book I shall mention is that written by Don Isaac Abarbanel on the law, the former prophets, the beginning of the year, and the consecration of the new moon, according to the Rabbins, and against the Karaites, who fix it at the change, but the Rabbins when she became visible. He was born at Ulyssipona in Lusitania, A.D. 1437; was employed at the court of Alphonsus V.; left his native country as an exile, with the rest of the Jews, A.D. 1492; died at Venice, and was buried at Patavium A.D. 1508.


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* See a full account of all the eight Targums in Prideaux Connect. A.A.C. 37.

6 See an Analysis of his works, with the names of the translators, in Spencer De Leg. Hebr. Rit. vol. ii. sub fin.

c Considerable additional information as to Jewish authors may be obtained in the Catalogue given by Spencer, and Prideaux Connect. vol. ij. preface, VOL. II.



Jewish notions of Astronomy.

Jewish notions of the figure, motion, and dissolution of the earth. Objections

against the Copernican system examined. State of astronomy in Chaldea, Egypt, and Judea. The cases of Joshua, and the dial of Ahaz, Arcturus and Orion described : the Pleiades : the chambers of the south; Mazzaroth. Parkhurst's different explanation of these. The darkness at our Saviour's death considered. An interesting extract from Fergusson's Tracts.

The whole of Scripture strikes evidently against the generally received heathen opinion either of the eternity of the world, or its formation by chance ; for it points out its creation by the power of God at no very remote period, and its entire dependence on him for its continuance and regularity. As for the particular form of the earth, and the place it holds in the system of nature, the opinions of the ancients were very various. Some supposing that it was an extended plane, the extremities of which were surrounded by water; and others that it was a globe, or nearly so, with a surface diversified by land and water: some imagining that it was fixed in its place, while the sun and the stars revolved around it; and others that the sun was fixed, and that the earth and planets revolved around him in elliptical orbits ; the sun being placed in one of the foci of these ellipses.

We know little of the ideas of the Jews concerning the relations of the heavenly bodies to each other, both on account of the distance of time, and because Scripture was given for other ends than to teach men philosophy; but, from what we can collect, they appear to have been nearly the same with what is accounted at present the true system of astronomy. For Joba speaks

* Job xxvi. 7.

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