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that he plainly intimates the contrary, when, Joh. iii. 39. he directs his Followers to search the Scriptures; which he would not have done in such general Words, if they had been falsified, without taking Notice of such Falsifications, if there had been any. Allo Mar. xxiii. 2, 3. he says, The Scribes and Pharisees fit in Moses Seat, whatsoever therefore they bid you observe, that observe and do. Cap any one believe that our blessed Lord would direct any persons to read corrupted or falsified Scriptures, or give his Followers a Charge to hear those who had corrupted them?
There is just Reason also to believe, that the Jews have not wilfully or maliciously altered or corrupted their Scriptures fince the Days of Christ and his Apostles ; because we still find those Texts of the Old Testament, which are cited in the New, in our present Hebrew Bibles. If the Jews had been disposed to alter their Scriptures, would they not have changed those Texts, that they might have had, a Pretence to have accused Christ and his Apostles with Misquotations and Misrepre. sentations of their Scriptures ? Again, if the Jews had wilfully corTupted the Scriptures, through Hatred to the Christians, as some fuppose them to have done, they would, no Doubt, have done it in those Prophecies which particularly relate to Christ, and in such Places as relate to the Mysteries of the Chrisian Religion. Yet learned Men have observed, in some Places where the Hebrew Books differ from the Greek and Latin, the Hebrew is more opposite to the Jews, than either the Greek or Latin : As in Pfal. ji. 12. where the Greek and Larin read, Lay hold of Discipline, left the Lord be angry. The Hebrew has it, Kiss the Son, les he be angry. Which Reading more plainly refers to Christ, than the other. Who can believe the Jews would' wil. fully make Alterations in those Places, where there is no Controversy between them and us, yet change nothing in those Passages which make so plainly for us against themselves ? Besides, as the Jews are dispersed into so many diftant Countries, it is morally impossible they Thould all meet together, and agree to corrupt their Books, or that any Thould do it, without some general Agreement with the rest, who might, and no Doubt would, complain of such Alterations. And as Tuch Complaints of one Party of Jews against the other have not been made, we may for these Reasons believe the Jews have made no wilful Alterations in the Holy Scriplures since the Coming of Christ.
But although the Jews have not wilfully corrupted the Hebrew Text, that is the Letters, yet they have affixed such Vowel Points and Pauses to the Letters, as give a Sense to many Words, very different from the Sense those words were judged to bear by the LXX, and other ancient Translators. About Å. D. 500, or later, the Jews of Tiberias, where that People had then their chief School of Learning, taking all the Hebrew Letters as Consonants, invented several Points, which they put under every Letter to serve instead of Vowels, in order to direct how every Word should be pronounced. Some have maintained, that there Vowel Points are at least as old as the Time of Ezra, if not of Moses. But the Generality of the Learned, I think, are of Opinion that they are no older than A. D. 5oo, if so old. The Matter has ben controverted pretty much, and the late Dean Prideaux (in his
ed il meet together and Countries, it belides, as
how. Vowel Points are cality of the 500, if fo oldan Prideaux moineazione
Connection of the History of the Old and New Testament, Part I. Book v. p. 346. Edit. 8°) has given us all the Arguments pro and con upon this Question : And declares himself to be of Opinion that the Vowel Points were used, if not in the Time of Ezra, yet very soon after, and long before the Destruction of the second Temple. Yet he confesses that they are not mentioned by any Author, either Jew or Christian, until fume Hundreds of Years after the Destruction of Jerusalem. That neither Origen, who gave us the Hebrew Scriptures in one Column written in Hebrew Characters, and in another Column in Greek Characters ; nor St. Jerom, who translated the whole Bible from the Hebrew, take any Notice of these Points. Also, that to this Day all the Bibles used in the Jewish Synagogues are written without any Points either of Pause or Lection. Likewise, that he himself, or any other Master of the Hebrew Language, 'would at this Time choose to read in 2n Hebrew Book that was unpointed. The Reason which he gives for this Opinion of his, is, that although when a Man is acquainted with a Language, he may read it without Vowels, yet until he has learned the Language, it is impoffible for him to read it so written. And as the Hebrew was become a dead Language from very near the Return of the Jews from the Babylonil Captivity, that is from Ezra's Days, and to be learned from Book's only, it was impossible to be learned without the Vowel Points : Consequently those Points must have been in Use from Ezra's Time, or soon after.'
But all this fine Reasoning is overthrown, not only by the Silence of the Ancients, both Jews and Christians, but also by the positive Testimony of St. Jerom, who lived 800 Years after Ezra’s Time, and after the Hebrew was become a dead Language, yet was taught that Language by a Jew, without the Aflistance of any Points. For this Father, in his Epistle to Evagrius concerning Melchifedeck, says, Non refert utrum Salem an Salim nominetur, cum vocalibus in medio literis perraro, utantur Hebræi: Et, pro voluntate leftorum atque varietate Regionum, cadem verba diverfis finis atque accentibus proferantur. And left you should think that by his saying' perraro utantur, he may mean that Vowel Points were then sometimes used, though but feldom, consequently that this is a Proof of their being used in his Time, and long before, I must inform you, that he cannot mean Vowel Points in this Place, but real literal Vowels, such as all Languages in these western Parts of the World make use of: And such the Hebrews always had, though most of their Words be written without any of them. These Vowels are X, 1, ?, y, that is, a short, o, ou, or u, i and a long ; to which some add and , that is, e short and long. But the Masom rites, who invented the Points, make all these Letters to be Consonants ;' hut give them no other Sound than what belongs to the Points placed under them, or, if any, it is no more than an Aspirate. These Letters indeed perraro utantur in medio : But that cannot be said of Points, which are now affixed to all initial and middle Letters. Befides St. Jerom says, vocalibus literis, but the points are not litere, neither are called'fo by those who have pleaded the most for them. This positive Testimony of St. Jerom, that the Hebrews seldom placed a Vowel in the Middle of a Word, and that it was indifferent what
ot, if any, itinand than what betters to be Confo
Vowel you made Ure of in the Pronunciation, is a plain Teftimong that no Vowel Points were used in his Time, that is, until the Beginning of the fifth Century after Christ. Those therefore who place the Invention of the Points to about the Year 500, place it early enough.
The Inventors of these Points are called Maforites, and their Work Mafora, or the Majore, which is derived from the Hebrew Word 702 Mafar, tradidit, becaule, after the Hebrew became a dead Language, thele Maforites, from Age to Age, delivered down the Manner how the Hebrew Words were to be written, read and pronounced. And that these might be preserved to all future Ages, they invented a great. Number of Points for Vowels, Pauses, and Accents, which the Reader 1hould observe. I shall not trouble myself nor you concerning the nice Curiosity and needless Labour of these Maforites, not only to number the Verles contained in every Book of the Law and the Prophets, and in all of them together, but likewise the Words, and even the Letters. · The Points'are all I shall take Notice of; because the Learned, until of late, have thought them to be of great Ure, and that the Hebrew Language cannot be learned without the Knowledge, at least of the Vowel Points. Even those who have thought the Vowel Points, as well as those of Pause or Accent, deserve no Regard to ascertain or fix the Sense of a Word, yet think a Begiạner must learn them, the Lan-, guage not being otherwise to be learned. But Masclef, a Priest and Canon of Amiens in France, has, not many Years since, published a . Hebrew Grammar, whereby he tells us, that Language may be learned without any Knowledge of the Vowel Points; and that he himself, being puzzled with the many Rules given with Relation to the Points, threw them all aside, and found it much easier and better to learn the .
phrew them without themi se who lay a Words are,
It is pretended by those who lay a great Stress on the Points, that the same Word, as most of the Hebrew Words are, being written with Consonants only, has various Significations, according to the Vowels with which you read or pronounce it. For Consonants alone cannot be read or pronounced without the Asistance of Vowels; And the Signification of Words in all Languages depends upon the Pronunciation of the Vowels, as well as of the Consonants; and that in the Hebrew, though inost of the Words are written without any Vowels, as mult be confelled by those who will not allow all the Letters to be Confonants; therefore, where Words are written with Consonants only, and yet have different Significations according to their different Pronuriciation, they must have different Vowels affixed to them, and for this Realon the Majoritès have done well to affix different Vowels to , the same Word, to ascertain the Sense of it. Thus, for instance, the three Letters 727 dbr have at least five different Significations. 1. He pake. 2. Speaking. 3. A Word. 4. A Pestilence. 5. A Fold for Sheep or Caille. No Doubt, but while the Hebrew was a living Language, the Word composed of these three Letters was understood in its dif. ferent Significations by the different Vowels they used when they spake it. And such Vowel Points the Majorites have now affixed to it, by which we may know when and where those three Letters fignify one Thing and when another. When it fignifics he spake, they affix the
be Text, if the wel Points had of the cruens: But as
Points which denote a short and a long, and say dabar. When it is a Participle, and signifies Speaking, by their Points they read dober. When it is a Noun, and signifies a Word, they put it under two a's thort, and read dabar. When it fignifies a Pefilence, they put two e's under, and read diber. When it signifies a Fold, they put the Points which denote a and e, and read it daber. And the like have they done with Regard to all other Words.
What has been done, in this Case, by the Maforites, would certainly be of great Use and Service to the Church for understanding the Hebrew Text, if they had lived while the Hebrew was a living Language, and these Vowel Points had been then used, and we could have been assured of their Knowledge of the true Pronunciation of all Words, according to their different Significations: But as the Hebrew was become a dead Language many hundred Years before their Time, the true ancient Pronunciation was as much unknown then as now. We have St. Jerom's Testimony before cited, that different Vowels were used in the Pronunciation of the same Word in different Countries: And this was at least a hundred Years before the Maforites began the Invention of their Points, either for Vowel, Paule or Accent. I say, began, because they were not all invented at once, but Improvements continued to be making for some Centuries. It is also manifest, from the LXX, that the ancient Jews read with different Vowels from tholc which the Maforites have affixed.
This is very well proved by Mafilef in his Arguments for his New Grammar, p. xxxviii, &c. which I will give you in his own Words. He says therefore
“ Řem ipfain accuratius & per partes evolvamus. In duobus fita " est pronunciatio Mafforethica. 1°. In valore seu sono quem fingulis “ Alphabethi literis tribuit. 2°. In Vocalibus, quas punctis exprimit: " Atqui quoad utramque partem à veteri norma non parum recedit “ punctatio feu pronunciatio Maflorethica.
Quod ad literas, hæc pauca è multis annotamus. Docent Veteres “ literam non ut p sed ut ph pronunciari. Nulla apud eos Mentio “ duplicis , nullibi aiunt literas nain2 duplici modo efferri. Tria • Argumenta quibus evincitur Maforethicam pronunciationem à veteri “ & genuina non paruin deflexisse.
« Quoad alceram Pronunciationis partem, fcilicet vocales quas fup“ plen:, æque aberrant Massoretbæ. Difcrepant eniin a Veteribus tam « circa vocales supplendas, quam circa loca in quibus fupplendæ sunt. « Primo in eurum fyftemate nulla, ut aiunt, vocalis frequentior oc"currit quam Scheva. Atqui in Pronunciatione istius Motionis longe “a Veteribus discedunt Maflorethæ. Punctorum Masforethicorum " Mysteriis haud initiatus eum hic Mystagogum adhibebo, quem “ nemo mihi favere voluisse causabitur. D. Guarinum dico nove “ Methodi acerrimum hostem, qui Grammaticæ iuæ Tom. I. p. 37. “ fic loquitur.
" Antiqui Interpretes Græci le&tione rô Scheva regulas longè diversas ab “ iis quas tradunt hodierni Grammatici fequebantur. 1'. Enim illud fæpè " non iigebant initio Dictionis, ut Gen. i. 1. DIN9) Bereichit in principio ; Græci Benoil. Levit. xiii, 19. O Seeth, tumor; Græii,
6 on, &c. e contra quando duo Scheva initio Dictionis concurrunt, prius fea $ cundum Grammatices hodierna canones vulgò mutatur in bhiriq qaton, id 6 eft ini: pofterius vero quiescit, id eft, mutum est, illi vero interdum C utrumque legebant.--Ex his aliisque plurimis exemplis quæ paffim oce
currunt in Origenis Hexaplis a nostro D. Bernardo de Montfaucon editis,
videtur conflare variam admodum et incertam fuiffe apud Veteres Scheva « legendi rationem. Huc usque Guarinus.
« Secundò idem colligitur è nominum propriorum diversâ prolatione, “ Legunt Recentiores Nebuchadnetfar, 'Rechubgam, Pinchas, Chiskia, 6. Jirmeia, Jechezchel, Achaschveros, Dariavesch, Kiflef, &c. LXX. Jo“ fephus & alii Nabuchodonofor, Roboam, Phinees, Ezechias, Jeremias, “ Ezechiel, Afuerus, Darius, Cafleu, &c. Eo argumento utitur Boz “ chartus Epiftola ad Jacobum Capellum de linguæ tum Chaldaicæ tum sw Syriacæ pronunciatione : Extat Tom. 3. Col. 853. Recentiores He“ bræi, inquit, a Veteribus in Hebraici fermonis pronunciatione multum difer ferunt ut ex nominibus huic linguæ propriis, fi cum antiquis versionibus conferantur, difcimus.
Atqui fi a veteri pronunciatione ita difcordant in nominibus pros priis, quorum pronunciatio facilius potuit conservari (omnium enim " ore femper trita fuerunt ifta nomina) quid existimandum contigiffe “ in vocibus, quæ (utpote rarius in quotidiano sermone occurrentes) " promptius potuerunt ad aliam pronunciationem detorqueri ? Dicent “ Adversarii emollita esse a LXX Interpretibus nomina propria, quo « Græcis auribus minus barbara apparerent.
« Esto. At quantumvis emollita dicantur, fieri non poteft ut a pro« nunciatione Massorethica tam discrepent, si eodem modo & LXX &
Mafloréthæ ea in Fontibus Hebraicis legerunt. Potuerunt quidem “ inflecti pofteriores Syllabæ, ut iftis nominibus daretur Græca termi“ natio ; at quid causa fuit, cur non ubique fervaretur idem Syllaba:
rum numerus, prioresque & intermediæ Syllabæ tam turpiter defor“6 marentur ?
“ Non in solis nominibus propriis, sed & in aliis diversitas illa con♡ spicitur. Habemus aliquot fragmenta Hexaplorum, in quibus Tex“ tum Hebraicum literis Græcis descripserat Origines ad eam normam, ç qua tunc a Judæis pronunciabatur. Scimus similiter quomodo plu.
rima loca ejusdem Textus legerit & pronunciarit Hieronymus. Si “ conferantur ea loca cum Masforethica pronunciatione, nec rarò nec “ parum a veteri videbitur Mafforethica discrepare. Nullus eft Scripse turæ Interpres Masforethis vetustior, quem non deprehendas haud “ rarò secutum esse diversam a Mallorethica pronunciationem; itą RC tamen ut quo quisque proprior fuit Mafforetharum tempori, co pro« pius illius lectio ad eorum punctationem accedat. LXX omnium « antiquiffimi longiffimè recedunt."
But if nothing more than the bare Pronunciation of Hebrew Words was concerned in the Case, the Matter would not be worth the least Dispute.' We know not how the ancient Greeks and Romans pronounced the Latin and Greek Tongues. Every Nation now gives the same Sound to the Latin and Greek Letters, which they give to those of their own Language, which occasions those Languages to be differently pronounced by different People. However, all write and intera