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against our neighbours, let them be as bad as they may in other things. I have never, as yet, feen nor read any thing, that has convinced me that they have wilfully corrupted any one paffage in the facred text, no not that celebrated one in Pfal. xxii. 16. Their copiers indeed may have made mistakes in tranfcribing, which are common to all writings; and the Jews meeting with a various reading, they may have preferred one to another, which made most for their own fentiments; nor is this to be wondered at, nor are they to be blamed for it. It lies upon us to rectify the mistake, and confirm the true reading.
It does not appear, that there ever was any period of time, in which the Jews would or could have corrupted the Hebrew text; not before the coming of Christ, for then they could have no difpofition nor temptation to it; and to attempt it would have been to have rifqued the credit of the prophecies in it; nor could they be fure of any advantage by it: and after the coming of Christ, it was not in their power to do it without detection. There were the twelve apostles of Christ, who were with him from the beginning of his ministry, and the feventy difciples preachers of his Gofpel, befides many thousands of Jews in Jerufalem, who in a fhort time believed in him; and can it be supposed, that all these were without an Hebrew Bible? And particularly that learned man, the apostle Paul, brought up at the feet of a learned Rabbi, Gamaliel ; and who out of thofe writings convinced fo many that Jefus was the Christ, and who speaks of the Jews as having the privilege of the oracles of God committed to them, Rom. ii. 1, 2. nor does he charge them, nor does he give the leaft intimation of their being chargeable, with the corruption of them; nor does Christ, nor do any of the apoftles ever charge them with any thing of this kind. And befides, there were multitudes of the Jews in all parts of the world at this time, where the apostles met with them and converted many of them to Chrift, who, they and their fathers, had lived in a state of disperfion many years; and can it be thought, they should be without copies of the Hebrew Bible, whatever ufe they may be fuppofed to have made of the Greek verfion? So that it does not feem credible, that the Jews fhould have it in their power, had they an inclination to it, to corrupt the text without detection. And here I cannot forbear tranfcribing a paffage from Jerom, who obferves, in answer to those who fay the Hebrew books were corrupted by the Jews, what Origen faid, "That Chrift and his apoftles, who reproved the Jews for other "crimes, are quite filent about this, the greatest of all." Ferom adds, “If they See a good Defence of the Jews, by F. Simon against Leo Caftrius, Morinus and Voffius in his Difquifit Critic. c. ix. and x. b Comment, in Efaiam, c. 6. fol. 14. G.
"they should say, that they were corrupted after the coming of the Lord, "the Saviour, and the preaching of the apoftles; I cannot forbear laugh
ing, that the Saviour, the evangelifts and apoftles fhould fo produce testi"monies that the Jews afterwards fhould corrupt." To all which may be added, that the Jews are a people always tenacious of their own writings, and of preferving them pure and incorrupt: an inftance of this we have in their Targums or paraphrafes, which they had in their own hands hundreds of years, before it appears they were known by Chriftians; in which interval, it lay in their power to make what alterations in them they pleased; and had they been addicted to fuch practices, it is marvellous they did not; fince they could not but obferve, there were many things in them, that Chriftians were capable of improving against them, fhould they come into their hands, as in fact they have done; and yet they never dared to make any alterations in them: and had they done any thing of this kind, it is most reasonable to believe, they would have altered the paffages relating to the Meffiah; and yet thofe, and which are many, stand full against them. Indeed, according to Origen, as fome think, the Targums were known very early, and improved against the Jews in favour of Jefus being the true Meffiah, agreeable to the fenfe of the prophets; fince he makes mention of a difpute between Jafon, an Hebrew-Chriftian, fuppofed to be the fame as in As xvii. 5. and Papifcus, a Jew; in which, he says, the Christian shewed from Jewish writings, that the prophecies concerning Chrift agreed with Jefus; and what elfe, fays Dr Allix, could he mean by Jewish writings, but the Targums? Though it is poffible the writings of the Old Teftament may be meant, by which the apostle Paul alfo proved that Jefus was the Chrift. However, if the Targums are meant, they do not afterwards appear to have been known by Chriftian writers for fome hundreds of years..
It may be faid, perhaps, that the Jews are felf-condemned, and that it may be proved out of their own mouths and writings, that they have in some places wilfully corrupted the Hebrew text; as the thirteen places they own they changed, on the account of Ptolemy king of Egypt; and alfo what they call Tikkun Sopherim, the ordination of the fcribes, and Ittur Sopherim, the ablation of the fcribes as to the first of thefe, it is true, that they fay, when Ptolemy king of Egypt defired to have their law, and feventy men fent to translate it, that they made alterations in the copy they fent; but then it should be observed, d Judgment of the ancient Jewish Church, &c. p. 376. • T. Hierof. Megillah, fol. 71. 4. T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 9. 1. Maffechet Sopherim, c. .. f. 8. fol. 8. 1.
• Contra Celfum, 1. 4. p. 199.
served, that they do not say they made any alteration in their own copies, only in that they fent to him; and which appears also to be a mere fable of the Talmudifts, and that in fact no fuch alterations were made: but the story was invented partly to bring into difgrace the Greek version of the Seventy, as if it was made after a corrupt copy; and partly to make the minds of their own people easy, who disapproved of that work, and kept a fast on occafion of it'. My reason for this is, because the Greek version does not correspond with the pretended alterations. There are but two places out of the thirteen, which agree with them; the one is in Gen. ii. 2. which the Seventy tranflate, and on the fixth day God ended his work; the other is in Numb. xvi. 15. which they render I have not taken the defire of any one of them, instead of one afs from them; neither of which feem to arife from a bad copy before them, but from fome other caufe. The first of them is not peculiar to the Septuagint, it is the fame in the Samaritan Pentateuch; and the latter plainly arises from the fimilarity of the letters Daleth and Refb. There is a third, Exod. xii. 40. in which there is fome agreement, but not exact. Besides, neither Philo the Jew, nor Jofephus, though they wrote very particularly of this affair of Ptolemy, yet make not the least mention of these alterations, in the copy fent to him, nor in the tranflation of it. They obferve, there never was any change made in the facred writings, from the time of the writing of them to the age in which they lived. Philo fays, "The Jews, for the space of more than two. "thousand years, never changed one word of what was written by Mofes, but "would rather die a thousand times, than receive any thing contrary to his "laws and customs." Jofepbus obferves, "It is plain, in fact, what credit we give to our writings, for that fo long a space of time has run out, yet "no one ever dared, neither to add, nor to take away, nor to change any "thing." And Walton himself, I obferve, reckons this story about the alterations for the fake of king Ptolemy, to be a Rabbinical fable; and, as fuch, Jerom had got a hint of it from one of his Rabbins.
The Tikkun Sopherim, or ordination of the fcribes, is fuppofed to be the order of Ezra, as it is said in the Maforah on Exod. xxxiv. 11. and on Numb. xii. 12. and of his colleagues; though fome think' it is no other than the order or inftruction of the infpired writers themselves. It refpects eighteen paffages in the Bible, fo expreffed, as that fome fmatterers in knowledge might gather
Apud Eufeb. præpar. Evangel. 1. 8. c. 6. p. 357. Prolegom. Polyglott. 9. f. 16.
f Schulchan Aruch, par. 1. c. 583. f. 3. Contra Apion, l. 1. c. 8.
*Præfat. ad Quæft. Heb. Tom. 3. fol. 65. c. 1 Buxtorf. Epift. Glaffio in Philolog, Sacr. p. 40.
from the context, that fomething else is intended than what is written; and fo fufpect a corruption in the text, and take upon them to alter it. Now this ordination of the fcribes, as it is called, is fo far from implying a corruption itself, and from encouraging an attempt to make an alteration in the text, that it is just the reverfe; it is an ordination that the text fhould be read no otherwise than it is; and would have it remarked, that the words fo read, and which are the words of the infpired writer, contain an Euphemy in them, what is decent and becoming the majesty of God; when, if they were read, as the context might be thought to require they should be read, they would exprefs what is derogatory to the glory of the Divine Being. Thus, in the first of the places, this ordination respects, Gen. xviii. 22. Abraham stood yet before the Lord; it might feem to fome from the context, that the Lord defcended to ftand before Abraham; but as this might be thought derogatory to the glory of God, the infpired writer chose to express it as he has done; and the defign of what is called the ordination of the scribes, is to establish it, and to admonish that none should dare to alter it"; and fo it was to prevent an alteration, and not to make one; they made no change at all, far be it from them, as Elias Levita fays". As for Ittur Sopherim, or ablation of the scribes, that is only the removal of a fuperfluous Vau in five places; not that it was in the text, and removed from it by them, but what the common people pronounced in reading, as if it was there; which reading the fcribes forbid, to fecure and preferve the integrity of the text; and which prohibition of it to the common people, is called a taking it away; though in reality it never was in the text, only pronounced by the vulgar.
There is a paffage in the Talmud, produced by fome, as a proof that the Jews ftudiously corrupted the fcriptures, and allowed of it, when an end was to be answered by it; which is this, "It is better that one letter be rooted out "of the law, than that the name of God fhould be profaned openly;" but their sense is not that any letter fhould be taken, or that it was lawful to take · any letter out of any word in the law, to alter the fense of it, in order to serve that, or any other purpose; but that a leffer command should give way to a greater as for inftance, that the law concerning not putting children to death for the fins of their parents, and of not suffering bodies hanged on a tree to VOL. III.
Halichot Olam, p. 47, 48. Talmud. Lexic. Col. 2631. Præfat Ben Chayim ut fupra.
Præfat. Ben Chayim ad Bibl. Heb. Buxtorf. fol. 2. Buxtorf.
Buxtorf. ut fupra. Col. 1597, 1598.
PT. Bab. Yevamot, fol. 79. 1.
9 Vid. Morin, de Sincer. Heb. 1. 1. Exercitat. 1. c. 2...
remain fo in the night, fhould give way to a greater command concerning fanctifying the name of God publicly; as in the cafe of Saul's fons being given to the Gibeonites to be put to death, and whose bodies continued hanging a confiderable time, which is the cafe under confideration in the Talmudic paffage referred to; and the fenfe is, that it was better that the Law in Deut. xxiv. 16. should be violated, rather than the name of God should be profaned; which would have been the cafe, if the fons of Saul had not been given up to the Gibeonites to be put to death for their father's fins, because of the oath of Joshua and the princes of Ifrael to them. The falfifications charged upon, the Jews by Justin and Origen refpect not the Hebrew text, but the Septuagint verfion; and even, with refpect to that, Trypho, the Jew, rejects the charge brought by Justin as incredible; whether, fays he', they have detracted from the fcripture, God knows; it seems incredible.
It has been very confidently affirmed, that there is no mention made of the Hebrew vowel-points and accents, neither in the Mifnab nor in the Talmud: and this is faid by fome learned men, who, one would think, were capable of looking into those writings themselves, and not take things upon truft, and write after other authors, without feeing with their own eyes, and examining for themselves, whether these things be fo or no: in this they are very culpable, and their mistakes are quite inexcufable. But to hear fome men prate about the Talmud, a book, perhaps, which they never faw; and about the Maforab and Maforetic notes, one of which, as fhort as they be, they could never read, is quite intolerable. These men are like fuch the apostle speaks of, on another account, who understand, neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. What is this Maforah? Who are these Maforetes? And what have they done, that such an outrageous clamour is raised against them? To me, they seem to be an innocent fort of men; who if they have done no good, have done no hurt. Did they invent the vowel-points, and add them to the text, against which there is so much wrath and fury vented? To affert this is the height of folly'; for if they were the authors of the points, the inventors of the art of pointing, and reduced it to certain rules agreeable to the nature of the language, and were expert in that art, as, no doubt, they were, why did not they point the Bible regularly, and according to the art of pointing, at once? Why did they leave fo many anomalies or irregular punctuations? And if, upon a furvey of their work,
Juftin. Dialog. cum Tryphone, p 297, 299.
• Plane divina res eft Hebræorum Critica, quam ipfi Mafforam vocant. If. Cafaubon. Epift, ep. 390. Porthæfio, p. 467.
P'un&tationem Hebraicam non effe Maffora, neque dici, norunt qui nondum ære lavantur. Owen. Theologoumen. par. 4. Digreff, 1. p. 293.