Page images

their laws, and their religion towards God, before the preservation of themselves and their country.

23. Now, that some writers have omitted to mention our nation, not because they knew nothing of us, but because they envied us, or for some other unjustifiable reasons, I think I can demonstrate by particular instances : for Hicronymus, who wrote the history of [Alexander's] successors, lived at the same time with Hecateus, and was a friend of king Antigonus and president of Syria. Now it is plain that Hecateus wrote an entire book concerning us, while Hieronymus never meutions us in his htstory, although he was bred up very near to the places were we live. Thus different from one another are the inclinations of men ; while the one thought we deserved to be carefully remembered, as some ill-disposed passion blinded the other's mind so entirely, that he could not discern the truth. And now certainly the foregoing records of the Egyptians, and Chaldeaps, and Phenicians, together with so many of the Greek wri. ters will be sufficient for the demonstration of our antiquity. Moreover, besides those foremontioned, Theophilus, and Theodotus. and Muaseas, and Aristophanes, and Hermogenes, Euhemerus also, and Conon, and Zopyrion, and perhaps many others, (for I have not lighted up all the Greek books,) have made distinct mention of us. It is true, many of the men before mentioned have made great mistakes about the true accounts of our nation in the earliest times, because they had not perused our sacred books; yet have they all of them afforded their testimony to onr antiquity, concerning which I am now treating. Hoiever, Demetrius Phalereus and the elder Philo, with Eupolemus, have not greatly missed the truth about our affairs; whose lesser mistakes ought therefore to be forgiven them ; for it was not in their power to understand our writings with the utmost accuracy.

24. One particular there is still remaining behind of what I at first proposed to speak to, and that is to demonstrate, that those calumnies and reproaches, which some have thrown upon our nation, are lies, and to make use of those writers' own testimonies against themselves ; and that in general, this self-contradiction hath happened to mapy other authors, by reason of their ill-will to some people, I conclude, is not unknown to such as have read histories with sufficient care; for some of thein haye endeavoured

to disgrace the nobility of certain nations, and of some of the most glorious cities, and have cast reproaches upon certain forms of government. Thus hath Theopompus abused the city of Athens. Polycrates that of Lacedemon, as hath he that wrote the Tripoliticus, (for he is not Theopompus as is supposed by some) done by the city of Thebes. Timeus also hath greatly abused the foregoing people and others also: and this ill treatment they use chiefly when they have a contest with men of the greatest reputation : some out of envy and malice, and others, as supposing that, by this foolish talking of theirs they may be thought worthy of being remembered themselves: and indeed they do by no means fail of their hopes, with regard to the foolish part of mankind, but men of sober judgment still condemo them of great malignity.

25. Now, the Egyptians were the first that cast reproaches upon us; in order to please which nation, some others undertook to pervert the truth, while they would neither own that our forefathers came into Egypt from another country as the fact was, nor give a true account of our departure thence. And indeed the Egyptians took many occasions to hate us and envy us; in the first place, because our ancestors * had had the doininion over their country, and when they were delivered from them, and gone to their own country again, they lived there in prosperity. In the next place, the difference of our religion from theirs hath occasioned great enmity between us, while our way of divine worship did as much exceed that which their laws appointed, as does the nature of God exceed that of brute beasts ; for, so far they all agree through the whole country, to esteem such animals as gods, although they differ one from another in the peculiar worship they severally pay to them. And certainly men they are entirely of vain and foolish minds, who have thus accustomed themselves from the beginning to have such bad notions concerning their gods, and could not think of imitating that decent form of divine worship which we made use of, though when they saw our institutions approved of by many others, they could not but envy us on that account; for some of them have proceeded to that degree of folly and meanness in their conduct, as not to scruple to contradict

* The Phenician shepherds, whom Josephus mistook for the Israelitës, See the note on 5 16.

their own ancient records ; nay, to contradict themselves also in their writings, and yet were so blinded by their passions as not to discern it.

26. And, now I will turn my discourse to one of their principal writers, who I have a little before made use of as a witness to our antiquity ; I mean Manetho.* He promised to interpret the Egyptian history out of their sacred writings, and premised this ; That“ our people had come into “ Egypt, many ten thousands in number, and subdued its “ inhabitants ;” and when he had farther confessed, That “ we went out of that country afterward, and settled in " that country which is now called Judea, and there built " Jerusalem and its temple.” Now, thus far he followed his ancient records ; but after this he permits himself, in order to appear to have written what rumours and reports passed abroad about the Jews, and introduces incredible narrations, as if he would have the Egyptian multitude, that had the leprosy and other distempers, to have been mixed with us, as he says they were ; and that they were condemned to fly out of Egypt together; for he mentions Amenophis, a fictitious king's name, though on that account he durst not set down the number of years of his reign, which yet he had accurately done as to the other kings he mentions: he then ascribes certain fabulous stories to this king, as having in a manner forgotten how he had already related that the departure of the shepherds for Jerusalem had been five hundred and eighteen years befure ; for Tethmiosis was king when they went away. Now, from his days the reigus of the intermediate kings, according to Manetho, amounted to three hundred ninety-three years, as he says himself, till the two brothers Sethos and Hermeus; the one of which, Sethos, was called by that other name of Egyptus, and the other, Hermeus, by that of Danaus. He also says, that Sethos cast the other out

* In reading this, and the remaining sections of this book, and some parts of the next, one may easily perceive, that our usually cool and candid anthor Josephus was too biglily offended with the impudent calumpies of Manetho, and the other bitter enemies of the Jews, with whom he had now 10 deal, and was thereby betrayed into a greater heat and passion than ordinary, and that hy consequence he does not here reason with his usual fairness and impartiality; he seems to depart sometimes from the brevity and sincerity of a faithful historian, which is his grand character, and indulges the prolixity and colours of a pleader and a disputant:-accordingly, I confess I always read these sections with less pleasure than I do the rest of his writings, though I fully believe the reproaches cast on the Jews, which he here endeavours to confute and expose, were wholly groundless and unreasonable. of Egypt, and reigned fifty-nine years, as did his eldest son Rhampses reign after him sixty-six years. When Manetho therefore had acknowledged, that our forefathers were gone out of Egypt so many years ago, he introduces his fictitious king Amenophis, and says thus : “ This king was desirous “ to become a spectator of the gods, as had Orus, one of “his predecessors in that kingdom, desired the same before " him; he also communicated that his desire to his pame“ sake Amenophis, who was the son of Papis, and one that " seemed to partake of a divine nature, both as to wisdom " and the knowledge of futurities.” Manetho adds, “ how “ this namesake of his told him, that he might see the gods “it' he would clear the whole country of the lecers and of “the other impure people; that the king was pleased with " this injunction, and got together all that had any defect " in their bodies out of Egypt, and that their number was “ eighty thousand ; whom he sent to those quarries which " are on the east side of the Nile, that they might work in " them, and might be separated from the rest of the Egyp“ tians.” He says farther, That “ there were some of the “ learned priests that were polluted with the leprosy ; but “ that still this Amenophis, the wise man and the prophet, *« was afraid that the gods would be angry at him and at “ the king, if there should appear to have been violence 66 offered them; who also added this farther, [out of his “ sagacity about futurities,] that certain people would come " to the assistance of these polluted wretches, and would “conquer Egypt, and keep it in their possession thirteen “ years; that, however, he durst not tell the king of these “ things, but that he left a writing behind him about all “ those matters, and then slew bimself, which made the “ king disconsolate.” After which he writes thus verbatim : “ After those that were sent to work in the quarries had “ continued in that miserable state for a long while, the • king was desired that he would set apart the city Avaris, " which was then left desolate of the shepherdss, for their “ habitation and protection : which desire he granted them. “ Now this city, according to the ancient theology, was “ Typho's city. But when these men were gotten into it, " and found the place fit for a revolt, they appointed them“selves a ruler out of the priests of Heliopolis, whose name “was Osarsiph, and they took their oaths that they would * be obedient to him in all things. He then, in the first " place, made this law for them, that they should neither “ worship the Egyptian gods, nor should abstain from any 6 one of those sacred animals which they have in the high“ est esteem, but kill and destroy them all; that they should “ join themselves to nobody but to those that were of this “ confederacy. When he had made such laws as these, " and many more such as were mainly opposite to the cus66 toms of the Egyptians," he gave order, that they should “ use the multitude of the hands they had in building walls “ about their city, and make themselves ready for a war " with king Amenophis, while he did himself take into his “ friendship the other priests and those that were polluted “ with them, and send ambassadors to those shepherds who “had been driven out of the land by Tethmosis to the city “ called Jerusalem ; whereby he informed them of his owii “affairs, and of the state of those others that had been trea“ted after such an ignominious manner, and desired that " they would come with one consent to his assistance in this “ war against Egypt. He also promised that he would, “ in the first place, bring them back to their ancient city “ and country Avaris, and provide a plentiful maintenance “ for their multitude : that he would protect them and fight “ for them as occasion should require, and would easily “ reduce the country under their dominion. These shep. “ herds were all very glad of this message, and came away 6 with alacrity altogether, being in number two hundred " thousand men; and in a little time they came to Avaris. " And now Amenophis, the king of Egypt, upon his be"ing informed of their invasion, was in great confusion, " as calling to mind what Amenophis, the son of Papis, had “ foretold him; and, in the first place, he assembled the " multitude of the Egyptians, and took counsel with their " leaders, and sent for their sacred animals to him, espes cially for those that were principally worshipped in their “ temples and gave a particular charge to the priests dis“tinctly, that they should hide the images of their gods " with the utmost care. He also sent his son Sethos, who " was also named Ramesses, from his father Rhampses, be" ing but five years old to a friend of his. He then pas. " sed on with the rest of the Egyptians, being three hun.

* This is a very valuable testimony of Manetho, that the laws of Osarsish or Moses were not made in compliance with, but in opposition to the cus toms of the Egyptians. See the note on Antic, B. ii. ch. viii. 9. vol. 1

« PreviousContinue »