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c E. against our neighbours, let them be as bad as they may in other things. I have never, as yet, seen nor read any thing, that has convinced me that they have wilfully corrupted any one passage in the sacred texto, no not that celebrated one in Psal. xxii. 16. Their copiers indeed may have made mistakes in transcribing, 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 sentiments; 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 disposition nor temptation to it; and to attempt it would have been to have risqued the credit of the prophecies in it; nor could they be sure 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 seventy disciples preachers of his Gospel, besides many thousands of Jews in Jerusalem, who in a short 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 those writings convinced so many that Jesus 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 least intimation of their being chargeable, with the corruption of them ; nor does Christ, nor do any of the apostles ever charge them with any thing of this kind. And besides, 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 Christ, who, they and their fathers, had lived in a state of dispersion many years ; and can it be thought, they should be without copies of the Hebrew Bible, whatever use they may be supposed to have made of the Greek version ? So that it does not seem credible, that the Jews should have it in their power, had they an inclination to it, to corrupt the text without detection. And here I cannot forbear transcribing a passage from Jerom', who observes, in answer to those who say the Hebrew books were corrupted by the Jews, what Origen said, “ That Christ and his apostles, who reproved the Jews for other crimes, are quite silent about this, the greatest of all.” Jerom adds, “ If
" they • See a good Defence of the Jews, by F. Simon againt Leo Caftrius, Morinus and Vossius in his Disquisit Critic, c. ix. and x. 6 Comment. in Esaiam, 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 apostles ; I cannot forbear laugh
ing, that the Saviour, the evangelists and apostles should so produce testi“ monies that the Jews afterwards should corrupt." To all which may be added, that the Jews are a people always tenacious of their own writings, and of preserving them pure and incorrupt : 'an instance of this we have in their Targums or paraphrases, which they had in their own hands hundreds of
years, before it appears they were known by Christians; in which interval, it lay in their power to make what alterations in them they pleased ; and had they been addicted to such practices, it is marvellous they did not ; since they could not but observe, there were many things in them, that Christians were capable of improving against them, should 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 passages relating to the Meriah ; and yet those, and which are many, stand full against them. Indeed, according to Origen', as some think, the Targums were known very early, and improved against the Jews in favour of Jesus being the true Melliah, agreeable to the sense of the prophets ; since he makes mention of a dispute between Jefon, an Hebrew-Christian, supposed to be the same as in Aets xvii. 5. and Papiscus, a Jew; in which, he says, the Christian shewed from Jewish writings, that the prophecies concerning Christ agreed with Jesus ; and what else, fays Dr Allix “, could he mean by Jewish writings, but the Targums? Though it is possible the writings of the Old Testament may be meant, by which the apostle Paul also proved that Jesus was the Christ. However, if the Targums are meant, they do not afterwards appear to have been known by Christian writers for some hundreds of years. : It may be said, perhaps, that the Jews are self-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 also what they call Tikkun Sopherim, the ordination of the scribes, and Ittur Sopherim, the ablation of the scribes : as to the first of these, it is true, that they say, when Ptolemy king of Egypt. desired to have their law, and feventy men sent to cranNate it, that they made alterations in the copy they sent; but then it should be ob
served, c Contra Celsum, 1. 4. p. 199.
Judgment of the ancient Jewish Church, &c. p. 376. • T.Hieros. Megillah, fol. 71. 4. T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 9. 1. Masechet Sopherim, C. to.
1. 8, fol. 8. 1.
served, that they do not say they made any alteration in their own copies, only in that they sent to him; and which appears also to be a mere fable of the Talmudists, and that in fact no such alterations were made : but the story was invented partly to bring into disgrace 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 occasion 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 sixth day God ended his work; the other is in Numb. xvi. 15. which they render I have not taken the desire of any one of them, instead of one ass from theni; neither of which seem to arise from a bad copy before them, but from some other cause. The first of them is not peculiar to the Septuagint, it is the same in the Samaritan Pentateucb; and the latter plainly arises from the similarity of the letters Daletb and Resh. There is a third, Exod. xii. 40. in which there is some agreement, but not exact. Besides, neither Philo the Jew, nor Jofepbus, 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 translation of it. They observe, there never was any change made in the sacred writings, from the time of the writing of them to the age in which they lived. Philo says, “ The Jews, for the space of more than two. . “ thousand years, never changed one word of what was written by Moses, but “ would rather die a thousand times, than receive any thing contrary to his * laws and customs.” Josepbus observes, “ It is plain, in fact, what credit “ we give to our writings, for that so 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 observe, reckons this story about the alterations for the sake of king Ptolemy, to be a Rabbinical fable; and, as such, Jerom k had got a hint of it from one of his Rabbins.
The Tikkun Sopherim, or ordination of the scribes, is supposed to be the order of Ezra, as it is said in the Maforab on Exod. xxxiv. 11. and on Numb. xii. 12. and of his colleagues ; though some think' it is no other than the order or instruction of the inspired writers themselves. It respects eighteen passages in the Bible, so expressed, as that some smatterers in knowledge might gather
from I Schulchan Aruch, par. 1. c. 583. f. 3. : Apud Euseb. præpar. Evangel. 1. 8. c. 6. p. 357.
Contra Apion, l. 1. c. 8. i Prolegom. Polyglott. 9. f. 16. * Præfat. ad Quæst. Heb. Tom 3. fol. 65.c. "Buxtorf. Epift. Glasio in Philolog. Sacr. p. 40.
from the context, that something else is intended than what is written; and so suspect a corruption in the text, and take upon them to alter it. Now this ordination of the scribes, as it is called, is so far from implying a corruption itself, and from encouraging an attempt to make an alteration in the text, that it is just the reverse ; it is an ordination that the text should be read no otherwise than it is; and would have it remarked, that the words so read, and which are the words of the inspired 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 express what is derogatory to the glory of the Divine Being. Thus, in the first of the places, this ordination respects, Gen. xviii. 22. Abrabam stood get before the Lord; it might seem to some from the context, that the Lord descended to stand before Abraham ; but as this might be thought derogatory to the glory of God, the inspired writèr chose to express it as he has done ; and the design of what is called the ordination of the scribes, is to establish it, and to admonish that none should dare to alter it"; and so 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 says". As for Ittur Sopherim, or ablation of the scribes, that is only the removal of a superfluous Vau in five places o; 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 scribes forbid, to secure and preserve 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 passage in the Talmud P, produced by some ?, as a proof that the Jews ftudiously corrupted the scriptures, 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 should be profaned openly;" but their sense is not that any letter should be taken, or that it was lawful to take any letter out of
any word in the law, to alter the sense of it, in order to serve that, or any other purpose ; but that a lesser command should give way to a greater : as for instance, that the law concerning not putting children to death for the sins of their parents, and of not suffering bodies hanged on a tree to Vol. Ill.
K k k
remain - Halichot Olam, p. 47, 48.' Præfat. Ben Chayim ad Bibl. Heb. Buxtorf. fol. 2. Buxtorf. Talmud. Lexic. Col. 2631. n In Tilbi, p. 270.
• Baal Aruch, in voce by Præfat Ben Chayim ut supra. Buxtorf. ut supra. Col. 1597, 1598. PT. Bab. Yevamot, fol. 79. 1,
4 Vid. Morin, de Sincer. Heb, l. 1. Exercitat. 1. C. 2..
remain so in the night, should give way to a greater command concerning sanctifying the name of God publicly; as in the case of Saul's fons being given to the Gibeonites to be put to death, and whose bodies continued hanging a considerable time, which is the case under consideration in the Talmudic passage referred to; and the sense 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 case, if the sons 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 Israel to them. The falsificacions charged upon the Jews by Justin and Origen respect not the Hebrew text, but the Septuagint verfion; and even, with respect to that, Trypho, the Jew, rejects the charge brought by Justin as incredible; whether, says he', they have detracted from the scripture, 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 Misnab nor in the Talmud: and this is said by some learned men, who, one would think, were capable of looking into those writings themselves, and not take things upon trust, and write after other authors, without seeing 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 inexcusable. But to hear some men prate about the Talmud, a book, perhaps, which they never saw; and about the Maforab and Masoretic notes, one of which, as short as they be, they could never read, is quite intolerable. These men are like such the apostle speaks of, on another account, who understand, neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. What is this Maforab: ? 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 assert 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 so mapy anomalies or irregular punctuations? And if, upon a survey of their
work, Juftin. Dialog, cum Tryphone, p 297, 299.
* Plane divina res est Hebræorum Critica, quam ipfi Malloram vocant. Il. Casaubon. Epift, ep. 390. Porthæfio, p. 467.
i Punctationem Hebraicam non effe Maflora, neque dici, norunt qui nondum ære lavantur. Owen, Theologoumen par. 4. Digrell, 1. p. 293.