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We have before had an occasion of mentioning the religious exercises performed on the sabbath. * Feastings and rejoicings were also thought effential to the fabbath, according to Philo, Jofephus, and the Thalmudists (r). These however do not seem to have been of divine institution. It is only said in the law, that the fabbath was appointed as a day of respite, as a breathing-time according to the septuagint, or as a day of refreshment according to the ancient Latin version. This custom is certainly of a very long standing,
fince it is taken notice of by a heathen author (0), by way of reflection e upon the Jews. There could be no manner of harm in it, if, fatisfied
with some few innocent diversions, and moderate mirth, they had not exceeded the bounds of temperance and fobriety, as they are charged by that Author, as well as by St. Augustin (p), of having done. Jesus CHRIST made no scruple of being at a feast on the fabbath-day (9) But such was the sensuality of that people, that they could not but foon make an ill use of this custom. Accordingly we find some foot-steps of it in the prophet Isaiah (r), where rewards are proposed to such as would not take an occasion from the fabbath to indulge themselves in all manner of rioting and excess. It is certain that the fabbath was a day of rejoicing, and that, as a token of it, they founded the trumpet at several different hours (*), made great illuminations, and every one put on his best garments, and dressed over night a greater quantity of victuals than usual.
Before we conclude this article concerning the fabbath properly so called, it will be proper to explain what (s) St. Luke means by the seconda first fabbath, the which is the more necessary to do here, because the note on that passage happens to be omitted in our version of the New Testament. As this expression is to be found no where but in this place, the learned are very much divided about the signification of it, and Gregory Nazianzen excused himself in a very pleasant manner from delivering his opinion about it, when desired by St. Jerom (t). The Jewish year having two beginnings, as hath been shewn before, some authors pretend, that there were consequently two first sabbatis, namely, the first fabbath of the month Tisri or September, which was the beginning of the civil year. This, according to them, was the first fabbath of all. The other was the first sabbath in the month Nisan or March, and this was named the second-first. Clemens of Alexandria speaks indeed of a fabbath (u), that was stiled the first. And this conjecture would appear plausible enough, was it not liable to this difficulty, viz. That if the
(n) Philo de Vita Mofis. Jos. cont. App. I. 1.
(r) lía. lviii. 13, 14. (*) The first time was at the ninth hour, or our three in the afternoon, and then they left off working in the country; the second was some time after, and this inornent all the workmen in the city left off working, and shut up their 1:ops; and the last was, when the sun was ready to set, and then they lighted up the lamps. Lamy. p. 129. (s) Luke vi. 1.
(t) Hier. Epist. xxiv. ad Nepotian. (u) Clem. Alexand. Str. vi. p. 656.
fecond-firft fabbath mentioned by St. Luke had been the first fabbat of the month Nisan, it would thence follow that the disciples had tranigrefled the law by eating ears of corn (x), since the omer of barley, which was not presented to God till the next day after the feast of unleavened bread, that is, the sixteenth, had not been at that time offered up. Yet we do not find that the Pharisees upbraided the disciples for having transgressed the law in this respect, but only for having plucked ears of corn on the fabbath. Others have imagined that the Jews called first fabbaths, those three, that immediately followed their three folemn festivals; insomuch that the firft of all was that which came after the paflover, the second-first after the pentecost, and the third-firf after the fenst of tabernacles; but this conjecture is built upon too weak grounds to be depended on. The moft probable opinion therefore is that which is commonly received among the learned, namely, That by the second-first sabbath is to be understood the first fabbath after the fecond day of the feast of unleavened bread, when the handful of barley was offered (y), and from which the seven weeks between the paflorer and pentecoft were reckoned. Every circumstance tends to confirm this fuppofition. The disciples might then lawfully eat ears of corn. Josephus fays (z), that on the second day of the feast of unleavened bread, which is the fixteenth of the month, they are allowed to reap, but not before. Besides, the Greek word used by St. Luke (a), properly fignifies the first after the feeond. This moreover agrees with the Jewish way of computing the fifty days between the pasover and pentecost (5) The next day after the offering of the omer, they were used to say, this is the first day of the omer, and so on, till the fiftieth. The Hellenift-Jews, instead of saying the first after the omer (c), said the first after the second, that is, after the second day of the feast of unleavened bread. Of the sabba
The fabbatical year happened every seventh year, and le therefore it was also named the fabbath (d), according to Selle the Jewish calculation. The first sabbatical year celebrated by the children of Israel was the fourteenth after their coming into the land of Canaan, because they were to be seven years in making them. selves masters thereof, and feven more in dividing it among themselves. This year was reckoned, not from Abib or March, but from Tisri or September. It was called the year of release, for several reasons. 1. Because the ground remained untilled. They were not permitted to low, to plant, or prune trees, in a word, to cultivate the ground in any manner whatsoever (e). So that during the fix foregoing years, and etpecially on the sixth, which was stiled the eve of the sabbatical year, they were obliged to lay in provisions again't the ensuing time of need. This hath made some believe that when JESUS CHRIST told the Jews,
This year was reas called the year. d. "They were ne
(x) Lev. xxiii. 14.
(Y) Lev. xxiii, 154 (2) Jofeph. Antig. l. iii. 10. (a) Au TT: 0., . e. Eao; a =à Tĩ; Cu =. (b) Leo of Modena Cer. of the Jews. (C) Bartolocci. Biblioth. Rabb. apud. Bern. Lami, Appar. Chron. p. 202. (d) Lev. xxv, 4.
(e) Exod. xxiii. 10, &c. Levit. xxv. 2, 3, 4, 5:
“Pray ye that your fight be not on the fabbath (f),” he meant the fabe batical year, when there was but little sustenance to be found upon the ground. But another sense may be put on that partage (*). 2. Such debts as had been contracted during the fix preceding years were remitted (g). But it may be questioned whether a creditor was not allowed to demand his debt at the end of the fabbatical year; the Thalmudists are not agreed about it, but thus much is certain, that the fabbatical year was a time of acquittance for debtors. 3. Hebrew flaves were then set at liberty. It is however probable, that masters were obliged to make their slaves free at the end of every seventh year, whether it happened to be the sabbatical year or not (b); unless the flaves were willing to remain in the fame state for life, in which case, their masters brought them before the judges, and bored their ears through with an awl against the door-posts. To which David alluded when he said, that God did not defire sacrifice or oblation from him, but had bored his ears (i)," that he might be his servant for ever, and become always obedient to his voice. These words to bore the ear, are rendered in the Septuagint by others that signify to fit, or prepare a body, meaning, that the body or person of the Dave was no longer his own, but his master's. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews brings in Jesus Christ making use of the same expression, and applies it to his subject (k). Lastly, When mention is so often made in the New Testament of the remission of fins, it is undoubtedly spoken with allusion to the fabbatical year, which was a year of remission in all these respects. The jubilee (+) was celebrated at the end of seven times o
Of the jubilee. seven, or forty nine years, that is, every fiftieth year (1). It began on the tenth day of the month Tisri, and was proclaimed throughout the country by the found of a ram's horn, or a trumpet. There is no mention of the jubilees, but whilst the twelve tribes were in poffeffion of the land of Canaan, The Thalmudists pretend that they ceased when the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the half of Manasseh were carried away into captivity, and they are not at all mentioned under the second temple, though the fabbatical years continued still to be observed. The jubilee had the same privileges as the fabbatical year; the ground was not then cultivated, and laves were set at liberty (m). And besides, such lands as had been sold or mortgaged, returned to the first owners, if they could not redeem them looner (n); excepting houses in walled towns (0). These were to be redeemed within
Matt. xxiv, 20. (*) Whatever grew of itself, was left on the ground for the use of the poor and the stranger. Exod. xxiii. U.
(8) Deui. xv. 2. (b) Exod. xxi. 5, 6. Jerem. xxxiv. 14.
(k) Heb. x. 5. () The wor jubilee is formed from a Hebrew noun that signifies a ram's born, because it was uted in proclaiming the jubilee, or else from an ther lignia fying to remit or bring back again, becaule alienated estates returned then to the former owners, (1) Lev. xxv. 8.
(m) Ibid. ver. 40. (n) Ibid. yer. 28.
(0) Ibid, ver, 30,
a year, otherwise they belonged to the purchaser, notwithstanding the jubilee.
Some learned men (o) have attempted to prove by a calculation, that appears pretty exact, that if the Jews had still observed the jubilees, the fifteenth year of Tiberius, when John the Baptist firft began to preach, would have been a jubilee, and consequently the last, since fifty years after the Jewish commonwealth was no longer in being. This particular is of some consequence in our disputes with the Jews, who pretend (9), that the son of David will come during the last jubilee. And this also exactly agrees with the design of the gospel, and the end of John the Baptist's coming, which was to proclaim the grand jubilee, the spiritual freedom of the children of God, foretold by Zechariah (r), and prefigured by the jubilees of the Jews.
This article concerning the fabbath, the sabbatical year, and the jubilee, gives us an occasion of reflecting on the number Seven, fo famous in the Old and New Testament. It is certain that an extraordinary degree of perfection and holiness hath ever been ascribed to it, even among the heathens, as is evident from Philo (s), as well as the seven altars, which Balaam caused to be erected, to sacrifice thereon seven bullocks, and seven rams (t). We learn from Genesis that this number was much respected also by the patriarchs. God ordered Noah to chuse seven pairs of clean animals, and bring them into the ark (u). Noah sent every seven days a pigeon out of the ark to see if the waters were abated (*). Abraham set apart seven lambs for Abimelech (y). Jacob ferved Laban twice seven years (z). Cain was to be revenged seven-fold, and Lamech seventy and seven, or eleven times seven (a). God commands Job's friends to offer seven bullocks and seven rams for a burnt-offering (6). Pharaoh saw in a dream seven cows, and seven ears of corn, which Jofeph interpreted by seven years (c). This number was no less famous under the law, and it became entirely holy by the institution of the leventh day. Most of the extraordinary sacrifices were generally seven, and if there were more, they were reckoned by multiplying this number. The aspersions were done seven times. Several festivals lasted seven days. There were seven weeks between the passover and pentecoft. More festivals were kept during the seventh month than any other; there being no less than six. The number seven seems also to have been observed in performing several miraculous operations. When the Shunamite's son was brought again to life by Elitha, he sneezed seven times (d); and the same prophet ordered Naaman to go and wash himself seven times in the river Jordan, in order to be cured of his leprosy. Is Jericho to be taken, we presently see seven priests founding the trumpet for seven days, and on the seventh compafling the city seven times. All these instances, and many others that might easily be produced, plainly thew
(0) Father Lamy. Appar. Chron. p. 142.
(s) Phil. de Mundi Opif. 17, 18. (1) Numb. xxiii. 1. (u) Gen. vii. 2, 3. (x) Gen. viii, 10, 11, 12. b) Gen. xxi. 28. (2) Gen. xxix. 18. (a) Gen. iv, 24. 16) Job. xlii. 8. (c) Gen. xli. fd) 2 Kings iv. 35.& v. 10.
reation, pleased even hataphy. Thill the parfetches for their
that the number leven was reckoned full of mysteries. There are likewise in the New Testament manifest tokens of the mysteries which this number was supposed to contain ; particularly in the Revelations, where every thing that can be numbered, is reckoned by sevens. The Jews have ransacked all arts and sciences, to account for the pretended perfection of the number seven. They have fetched arguments for it from physics, the human body, and all the parts of nature; from arithmetic, astronomy, and geography. There was no need of so much learning. The number seven hath no perfection in itself. But it is plain that God was pleased to make it as it were a facrament of the truth of the creation, that men seeing that number so often distinguished from the rest, and forming the most remarkable epochas and computations, might always remember, that it was on the seventh day God had rested from his works after the creation of the world. Philo having advanced several odd and extravagant things concerning the number seven (e), concludes all his speculations upon that point with these excellent words : “ For “ these reasons,” saith he,“and several others, is the number seven honour“ed; but chieily, because by it is manifested the Father and Author of “the universe, and the mind may in it behold, as in a looking-glass, God “ creating the world, and all things that are therein contained.” But it must be observed that this number is mystical, and wherever it occurs in scripture, is not always to be taken in a literal sense, for frequently it is a certain and definite number put for an uncertain and indefinite one, and sometimes it signifies no more than some certain large number.
We have but little to say concerning the rest of the Jewish festivals that were of divine institution, that is, the new moons. The feast of the new year, which happened on
" the first new moon, was celebrated with a great deal of solemnity on the first and second days of the month Tifri, which was the beginning of the civil year of the Hebrews ($). . This festival was called in scripture the feast of trumpets, because during all that time the temple resounded with these instruments. It was spent in rest, feastings, and rejoicings (g). Several extraordinary sacrifices were then offered; especially a goat that was offered up to the Lord, as is expressly said in scripture (*). There could be nothing more natural, than to consecrate to God a day which had by the heathens been dedicated to their false deities, thereby to turn them from idolatry; but among the other reasons which rendered this day holy, the most remarkable is, that it was the first day in the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year. Besides, it is an old tradition among the Jews, and received by several Christians, that the world was created at that season of the year. To which may be added, that sabbatical years and jubilees were regulated by the month Tifri, for which reason perhaps it was called the memorial of the jubilee.
Mention is often made in the sacred writings of the solemnity of the
(e) Philo de Decal. (f) Lev. xxiii. 24. (8) Pfalm. Ixxxi. 3.
(*) The most famous Jewish doctors observe, that by these words of scrip. ture is meant, that this goat was not offered to the moon, as the Gentiles were used to do, but to the crue God.