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Sect. III. Of the Jewiss Affairs under PTOLEMY
SOTER, PTOLEMY PHILADELPHUS, and PTOLEMY PHILOPATER, Kings of Egypt. Of the great Synagogues, the Jewish Traditions, their Mishnah and Talmud, and of the Septua
gint Translation of the Bible into Greek. IlH
OW did Ptolemy, King of Egypt, deal
with the Jews ? A. Ptolemy designing tomake Alexandria, which was built by Alexander, in Egypt, his capital City, he persuaded a Multitude of Jews to settle there, granting them the same Privileges as Alexander had done before him; whence it came to pass, that Alexandria had a greater Number of Jews ftill flocking to it.
2 Q. What remarkable Story is related of one Mofollam, a Jew, who followed. Ptolemy about this Time ?
A. When a certain Soothsayer, or Cunning-Man, advised a Jewish Troop of Horse, in which Mofollam rode, to stand still, upon the Sight of a Bird in the Way, and told them, they should either go backward or forward, as that Bird took its Flight; the Jew, being a great Archer, immediately Thot the Bird with an Arrow, and said, “How could " that poor wretched Bird foreshew us our For
tune, which knew nothing of its own?” Here, by he designed to expose and condemn the Superftition of the Heathens.
3 Q. How did it fare with the Jews that were dispersed about Babylon?
A. Seleucus, another of Alexander's Generals, who ruled in the greater and the lesser Asia, built many Cities ;, fixteen of which he called Antioch,
rom Antiochus his Father ; nine were called Se. eucia, from his own Name;' fix Laodicea, from the Name Laodice, his Mother; others A pumea and Stratonice, from his Wives ; in all which he planted Jews, and gave them equal Privileges with the Greeks or Macedonians, especially at Antioch, in Syria, where they settled in great Numbers.
40. What considerable Perlon rose among the Jews at Jerusalem about this Time?
A. Simon the Just, who is spoken of so honourably in the fiftieth chapter of Ecclefiafticus : He was a High Priest of the Jews about this Time, who merited the Surname of the Juft, by his great
Holiness toward God, and Justice toward Men; and he was the last of the Men of the Great Synagogue.
5 Q. What was this Great Synagogue, and who were the Men that composed it?
A. An hundred and twenty Ellers, who; in a continued Succeffion, after the Return of the Jews from Babylon, laboured in restoring the Jewish Church and State ; and made it their chief Care to publish the Scriptures to the People with great Accuracy. • 6 Q. What Part of this work is attribu:ed to Simon ?
A. It is supposed by fome learned Men, that he added the two Books of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and the Prophecy of Malachi, to the Canon of Scripture; which B.Joks were scarc: fupposed to be inferted by Ezra, because feveral of them are thought to be written by Ezra himself; and the Books of Nehemiah and Malachi were more likely written after Ezra's Time. ;
7. Did the Jews after this Cime,' when t'ie Old Teitament was completed, religiously co.fiis themselves to the Doctrine of Scripture?
A. After this Time their Traditions began to prevail; that is, the Sayings of the Ancients deJivered down by Tradition. Nole, Though Traditions prevailed about this Time,
yet the Mishnah, which is their Secondary Law, or a Colle&tion of Traditions, and which they pretend to be di&tated from God to Moses, was not compiled and put together till above a hundred Years after the Time of Christ by Rabbi Judah Hakkadesh : And this Mishnah, together with their
Comments on these Things, are called the Talmud. Note, There are two Talmuds; that of Ferufalem,
which was complete about three hundred Years after Christ; and that of Babylon, about five hundred Years: But each of them have the same Misha nah, though with different Comments, which Comments are called the Gemara.
8 Q. Who were the chief Teachers of this Secondary Law or Traditions ?
1. Antigonus of Socho was the first of them, who being an eminent Scribe in the Law of God, was Prefident of the Sanhedrim, or Senate of the Elders at Jerusalem, great Master of the Jewish School, and a Teacher of Righteousness to the People, and of these Traditions. Afterward all the Teachers or Doctors of the Jewish Law, were in the New Testament sometimes called Scribes, fometimes Lawyers, or those who fat in Mofes's Seat.
9Q. What special Honour was paid to these Men?
A. Befides Other Respects fhewed them by the People, who called them Rabbi, and highly efteemed them, it was out of these Doctors that the great Sanhedrim, or Council of Seventy-two, was chosen, to govern the whole Nation ; and the leffer Council of Twenty-three, which was in every City of Judea
Note, These were called Rulers, or Eldere, or Counsel
lors; such were Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Gamaliel. Note here also, That in the Jewish Talmudical Books,
or their fabulous Writings, on which we cannot much depend, we are told, that about this Time one Sadoc mistook the Doctrine of Antigonus, of Socho, his Master, who taught, " that we ought
not to serve God in a servile Manner, merely W with Respect to the Reward;" and inferred from hence, that there were no Rewards after this Life, and begun the Sect of the Sadducees : Though it may be justly doubted, whether this, and other dangerous Doctrines of this Seet, arose so early among the Jews.
10 Since the Jews were disperfed into so many Countries, did they not acquaint the Gentiles with their Religion ?
A. Yes; for Prolemy Soter set up a College of learned Men at Alexandria in Egypt, and begun a. Library there ; which Piolemy Philadelphus, his youngest Son and Succeflor, improved to one hun. dred ihousand Volumes : This Prince is reported to have commanded the Hebrew Law to be tranAlated into Greek, to add to this Library of his that the Gentiles might read it; and accordingly. it was done. Note, This College of learned Men was encouraged,
and the Library increased by several Ptolemies lyc-, cessively, till it arose to Seven hundred thousand Books. Both these Things made Alexandria a fan mous Place of Residence and Resort for learned Men for several Ages. It happened that the larger Half of this Library was burnt by Julius Cæfar in: his Alexandrian War: The other Part was, by continual Recruits, enlarging to a vaster Number than the whole-Library before; but it was finally burnt and destroyed by the Saracens, in the Year of our Lord 642.
Il Q. In
ul. In what Manner is this Tranflation-reported to be made ?
A. Arifteas, the most ancient Writer on this Subject, and Jofephus the Historiani, who follows him,acquaints us, that after this Ptolemy had gained the Favour of the Jews, by paying the Ransom of a hundred thousand of their Countrymen, who were enslaved in Egypt, he procured six Elders out of every Tribe of lfrael, (which were in all' Seventy-two) to come to his Court; and after a Trial of their Wisdom, by some particular Quertion being put to each of them, he appointed them to translate the Law of Moses, by conferring together about the Sense of it, in the Isle of Pharos; which being afterwards read to him, and approved by him, he gave them a liberal Reward. Upon this Account this Translation is called the Septuagint, that is, the Translation of the Seventy, or Seventy-two Elders.
12 But did not this Story, in following Times grow much more fabulous ?
A. Philo the Jew, who lived about our Saviour's Time, reports, that each of these Seventytwo Elders' were put into a diftinct Cell, and were required to translate the whole Bible apart; and that they performed it so exactly alike, Word for Word, that it was approved as Miraculous and Divine: And even several Fathers of the Chriftian Church, being too credulous and fond of Miracles, have received this Story, and conveyed it down in their Writings.
13 Q. How doth it appear to be a Fable?
A. The great Imperfection of this Translation, discovers that it was no divine Work, nor performed by Miracle : Besides, the several Contradictions, and the Uncertainties chat are mingled