صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

carried the ark thither, and there it remained till Solomon placed it in the temple. In David and Solomon's time, the tabernacle and altar were in Gibeon, i Chron. xxi. 29. 2 Chron. i. 34. 1 Kings iii. 4. It seems to have been carried thither in the end of Saul's reign. For when David delivered to the Gibeonites the seven sons of Saul, we are told, 2 Sam. xxi, 9. that they hango ed them on the hill before the Lord, i. e. on the high place of Gibeah, where the tabernacle stood. For it would appear, that after Samuel's death, Saul removed the tabernacle and altar from Gilgal or Shiloh to Nob. But the priests at Nob incurring his displeasure, he removed them to Gibeah, or Gibeon, as it is called in the passages cited above. Solomon, upon his accession to the kingdom, offering here a great sacrifice, the Lord appeared to him, and bade him ask what he should give him. He chose wisdom to govern his kingdom, preferably to all other blessings. This God bestowed upon him, and added beside great wealth and honour. When the temple was built, Solomon removed the ark thither, and brought the tabernacle and all the holy vessels from Gibeon to Jerusalemn, 2 Chron. v. 5. and made a new brazen altar for the service, 2 Chron. iv. 1. · After the tabernacle and the altar were removed from Shiloh, Shechem decayed apace, til Jeroboam built a palace in it, Joseph. Ant. vii. 3. In the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, Shechem was the chief city of the Samaritans. According to the old Jerusalem itinerary, it was forty miles from Jerusalem. In our Lord's days, its name was changed into Sychar. This we are told the Jews did out of contempt to the Samaritans who inhabited it, the word signifying a drunkard and a liar. But it is more reasonable to believe, that the change happened according to the mutability of human language, which is always fluctuating. After our Lord's days, Sychar was called Neapolis, the new town, which in process of time was changed into Naplosa, its present name ; being so called, probably, because it was rebuilt on a different situation from the ancient Sychem or Sychar. The town is now in a mean condition, in comparison of what it is represented to have been anciently. It consists chiefly of two streets, lying parallel to one another, at the foot of mount Gerizim, and is full of people, being the seat of a Bassa.

DISCOURSE III.

Of the Samaritans. The revolt of the ten tribes under Jeroboam, was accompanied with a schism in religion. For that crafty prince soon became sensible, that if his subjects went regularly to Jerusalem to worship, and offer sacrifice as formerly, the majesty of the services of religion performed there, the address of the priests, the VOL. I.

flatteries

flatteries or threatenings of the prince, and the discourses of the people who remained loyal to the family of David, would soon induce thein to return to their rightful sovereign. He therefore set up calves at Dan the northern, and Bethel the southern extremities of his kingdom, giving out that these images were em. blems of the divine presence ; for though in our translation they are called calves, they were like the cherubims in the sanctuary. Moreover, he instituted priests to attend these idols, and to offer sacrifice there ; requiring all his subjects to worship there, and to abstain from the worship at Jerusalem.

Jeroboam's schism in religion was directly contrary to the law; yet God did not altogether cast off this part of the nation, for he raised up many prophets among them, particularly Elijah and Elisha, who, during the persecutions of Ahab and Jezebel, wrought many miracles in support of the true religion. At length the ten schismatic tribes having filled up the measure of their iniquity, God sent Shalmaneser, who took Samaria * their capital, transplanted the tribes into the plains of Chaldea, and repeopled the country with different nations, particularly with the Cutheans. This mixed colony brought their idols into the land of Israel, and set up their worship there. But to punish them, God brought up wild beasts, which destroyed numbers of them.

This

* Samaria, the imperial city of the ten tribes, took its name from Shemir, to whom the hill belonged on which it was built. This mountain, Snemir sold to Omri the sixth king of Israel, who built Sainaria, 1 Kings xvi. 24. Here Ahab, Omri's son, and the succeeding kings of Israel, fixed their residence, The presence of these princes, with the retinue that attended them, soon made Samaria a flourishing city, and occasioned it to be strongly fortwed. Accordingly, in process of time, it sustained several sieges from the kings of Syria. After the captivity of the ten tribes, the country out of which they were carried, seems to have taken the name of Samaria from the city ; and such of the people as were left in the land, together with the nations who were brought from Babylon to supply the place of the ancient inhabitants, were called by the common appellation of Samaritans from the new named country. These names subsisted long, for in our Saviour's time we find mention made of the country of Samaria, as distinct from Judea, John iii. 4, 5. and of the Samaritans, as a different people from the Jews, ver.9.

After Alexander the great's death, the city and country of Samaria fell under the dominion of the kings of Egypt. But Antiochus the great, conquering the provinces which bordered on Syria, the kings of Syria his successors continued in possession of Samaria, till Hyrcanus razed the city from the very foundation. He likewise burnt the temple, which the Sa. maritans had built on mount Gerizim, in opposition to the temple of Jerusalem. At length Herod the first raised Samaria from its ruins, named it Sebaste in honour of Augustus, and peopled it with a colony, consisting chiefly of the auxiliary troops, which he maintained to keep the Jews in awe, Here likewise he built a fine temple, to supply the place of that which had been demolished on Gerizim. But he could never prevail with the Samaritans to worship in it; for they continued their sacrifices in Ge. rizim. Samaria Kill subsists under the name of Sebaste. Mr Maundrel, who visited it, tells us, it is two hours journey from Sychem.

This great calamity was by these strangers imputed to their having neglected to worship the God of the country. Wherefore at their request the king of Assyria sent them one of the Jewish priests whom he had carried away captive to teach them the religion and sacrifices of Moses. This priest settled at Bethel, and taught the idolatrous nations how they should fear the Lord. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, 2 Kings xvii. 28, From this time forth, there was a confused mixture of religions in the land ; for the heathens who came from Chaldea, joined the worship of their different idols to the worship of the true God, which no doubt they performed after the manner of the schismatic tribes. The remnant of the tribes behaved as their fathers had done, and served God after the manner of the schism. Others walked in the statutes of the heathens, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel, 2 Kings xvii. 8.

The greatest part of the Samaritans being thus idolaters and strangers, it is evident that they intruded themselves into the covenant and previleges of the Israelites. Such of them as were not strangers, were schismatics, who set up a different worship from the true worship established at Jerusalem by David and Solomon ; princes whose persons and writings they for that reason abhorred. With respect to the prophets, whom God raised up in the two tribes after the separation, the Samaritans were obliged to deny their authority, otherwise they could not have persist ed in the schism. Nay they do not seem to have acknowledged the authority of the prophets, raised us by God in the ten tribes. For they rejected the writings of the two, who have left their prophecies in writing, viz. Hosea and Amos. Probably this might be owing to the imperfect manner in which the Samaritans had been instructed by the priest, whom the king of Assyria sent them; or to their settling in the country after the prophets were dead; so that having never prophesied unto them, they were unacquainted with their character. Whatever was the reason, it is certain that the Samaritans, even in latter times, acknowledged the authority of none of the Jewish scriptures but the five books of Moses, which they preserved still in their own character, affirming it to be the true genuine copy of the law. Their boast however is without foundation. For the Samaritan pentateuch having all the additions found in the Jewish copy, it is plain that they received it from the Jews, probably before the canon was, settled by Ezra. For in his days, and ever after the rancour which subsisted between the two nations was so great, that nei.. ther can be supposed to have received any thing relative to religion from the other. Perhaps the copies of the law were spread among the Samaritans, more especially when they came up to Josiah's passover, 2 Chron. xxv. 18. For it was one of the exer

cises

cises of that pious prince's zeal, to spread copies of the law among the people.

Considering the original of the Samaritan schism, and the subsequent corruption of their religion, by the coming in of the ido• latrous nations from Chaldea, the Samaritans could not avoid being very odious to the Jews. The latter, to express their contempt of the Samaritans, affected on all occasions to call the whole nation Cutheans, thereby upbraiding them with their idolatrous extraction, 2 Kings xvii. 24. The hatred which the Jews bare towards the Samaritans, was greatly heightened by the manner. in which they behaved, after the Jews returned from the captivity. Under the pretence of friendship, they did the Jews all the mischief they could, Neh. ii. 10. Ezra iv. 1. They perceived that the rebuilding of Jerusalem would perpetuate the reproach of their original, by preserving the two tribes distinct from them, in respect both of religion and government. Wherefore, pretending friendship, they assured the Jews that they worshipped the same God with them, and offered to assist them in the work, probably with a design to ruin it, Ezra iv. 2. But the Jews, unwilling to receive them into their commonwealth, rejected the offer. Upon which, the Samaritans throwing off the mask, accu. sed them to Artaxerxes of rebellion, Ezra iv. 11. obtained an order to stop the work, and when it was afterwards renewed, conspired to come and fight against the builders, Neh. iv. 8.

The breach between the Jews and the Samaritans, became still wider in the reign of Alexander the great. Manasseh, brother to Jaddus the Jewish high-priest, having married Sanballet the governor of Samaria's daughter, was required by the Jewish elders to put her away because she was an alien. This Manasseh refused to do, being encouraged by his father-in-law, who promised to build a temple upon the hill above Samaria, equal to that at Jerusalem, and to make him high-priest thereof. Accordingly Manasseh retained his wife, and was, for that transgres. sion of the law, banished both from the temple and altar of the Jews. He retired therefore to Samaria, and dwelt with his father-in-law, who soon after obtained leave of Alexander the great to build a temple for him, Joseph. Antiq. ii. cap. ult. This was the famous temple of the Samaritans on Gerizim, which so long rivalled the temple at Jerusalem. Of this temple, Sanballet made Manasseh the high-priest. And to him resorted every one that was in debt, or disappointed, or in distress, or who fled from the rigour of the law, or was any way uneasy, at Jerusalem. This new temple the Samaritans pretended was more holy and acceptable to God, than that which was at Jerusalem. Nay, they affirmed, that it was erected on the very spot which God himself chose for his worship. Thus, the preference which they gave to their temple, and the numbers who apostatised to them,

rendered rendered the hatred between the two nations more implacable than ever.

But that which most exasperated the Jews against the Samaritans, was the letter which they wrote to Antiochus Epiphanes, whilst he was persecuting the Jews in the most barbarous manner, on account of their religion. This letter the Samaritans began with the basest flattery, for they had the impudence to call Antiochus a god. Next, they expressly disclaimed their having any relation to the Jews, either in point of extraction or religion. Their ancestors, they said, were Sidonians, who to remove certain plagues incident to the country, observed the festival which the Jews called the Sabbath *, That they had a temple on mount Gerizim, dedicated to the nameless God, in which they performed sacrifice. That as their temple had hitherto the name of no God, they begged leave of him to dedicate it to the Grecian Jupiter, Antiq. xii. 7. A letter of this kind, wrote whilst the Jews were under the greatest hardships for the sake of their religion, could not fail to enrage them exceedingly against the Samaritans; and the remembrance of the injury, in all ages afterwards, continued fresh in their minds.

The character and conduct of the Samaritans rendering them entirely obnoxious to the Jews, the name itself became odious to them. It was reckoned the highest contumely when given to a Jew. Hence, in their quarrels they branded one another therewith, as the most provoking epithet they could devise. The reason was, in the name of Samaritan they comprehended the idea of apostasy, drunkenness, uncleanness, fraud, idolatry, and every evil thing. Accordingly we find the Jews, in the fury of their passion, calling our blessed Lord, more than once, à Samaritan, and affirming that he had a devil. In like manner, the son of Sirach has this virulent expression, Ecclesiastic. 1. 26. Two nations my soul hateth, the Samaritans and the Philistines. On the other hand, the Samaritans prosecuted their quarrel with equal rancour. The effect of which was, that neither would do the other the smallest good office. This was the reason that the woman of Samaria, who met our Lord at Jacob's well, was so exceedingly surprised when our Lord asked water to drink from her who was a Samaritan.

DIS.

* From the above mentioned circumstance, it appears, that the article of religion, which the idolatrous nations had failed most in the observation of, when they settled in Canaan, and which the Jewish priest sent them by the king of Assyria, 2 Kings xvii. taught them with the greatest care and assiduity, was the observation of the Sabbath.

« السابقةمتابعة »