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Sect. III. Of the Jewish Affairs under ProLEMY
SOTER, PTOLEMY PHILADELPHUS, and PTOLEMY PHILOPATER, Kings of Egypt. Of the great Synagogues, the Jewish Traditions, their Mishnah and Talmud ; and of the Septuagint Translation of the Bible into Greek.
Ow did Ptolemy, King of Egypt, deal
with the Jews ? A. Prolemy designing to make 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 Hocking to it.
2 Q. What remarkable Story is related of one Mofollam, a Jew, who followed. Ptolemy about ahis Time ?
A.When a certain Soothsayer, or Cunning-Man, advised a Jewilh 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 shot • the Bird with an Arrow, and said, ". How could
66 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,
A. After this Time their Traditions began to prevail; that is, the Sayings of the Ancients delivered down by Tradition. Note, 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 dictated 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 Jerufalem,
which was complete about three hundred Years after Chrift; 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 ?
A. Antigonus of Socho was the first of them, who being an eminent Scribe in the Law of God, was President of the Sanhedrim, or Senate of the Elders at Jerusalem, great Master of the Jewish School, and a Teacher of Rigbteousness 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 Moses's Seat. 9Q. What special Honour was paid to these Men?
A. Besides other Respects shewed them by the People, who called them Rabbi, and highly esteemed 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 Jeffer 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 miftook 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 Seet 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 dispersed into so many countries, did they not acquaint the Gentiles with their Religion?
A. Yes; for Prolemy Soter fet up a College of learned Men at Alexandria in Egypt, and begun a. Library there ; which Prolemy Philadelphus, his youngest Son and Successor, improved to one hun. dred i hou?and Volumes : This Prince is reported to have commanded the Hebrew Law to be tranlated 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 Tuc-, cessively, till it arose to Seven hundred thousand. Books. Both these Things made Alexandria a fam 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.
I Q. In
ul. In what Manner is this Translation-reported to be made ? : A. Aristeas, the most ancient Writer on this Subject, and Josephus the Historian, who follow's him, acquaints us, that after this Ptolemy had gained the Favour of the Jews, by paying ihe Ransom of a hundred thousand of their Countrymen, who were enslaved in Egypt, he procured fix Elders out of every Tribe of Ifrael, (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 Christian 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 ?
Ā. The great Imperfection of this Translation, discovers that it was no divine Work, nor performed by Miracle : Besides, the several Contradictions, and the Uncertainties that are mingled