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on the form which they are ultimately to take. It is in Alexandria, rather than in Judea, we shall have to trace these writings. In fact in Judea it was one long fight for simple existence, and the conditions were not those conducive to literary work like the collecting, collating, or editing of their Canon. Some of the new matter, breathing a passionate longing for another David, or Messiah, to deliver them from their intolerable temporal sufferings may be due to them; but it is not improbably that, like the Samaritans, they largely limited their Canon to the law alone. This certainly was the attitude of the Sadducees in the matter a little later. As regards the Jew population in Alexandria, it was mixed with many of the Israelitish tribes. The Samaritans were in force and claiming to be of as pure descent as the children of Judah. As regards others, temporary conditions governed their relations with one another. Between the Jew proper and the Galileans there always seems to have been good feeling. The Galilean had no temple of his own to rouse animosity, and periodically went up to Jerusalem to worship. The dispersion of Israel must not be pressed too far. Probably, like the Jews, they were found as voluntary colonizers in many parts of the world, but the number of captives carried away by Sargon—under thirty thousand—could not have much affected the general character of the inhabitants of the country. Then, exactly as Ptolemy established a colony of Jews in Alexandria, ultimately giving them great privileges, so also did the Syrian Greek, about B.C. 300, establish a similar colony in Antioch, the new capital of their kingdom. Here also we find them prosperous and favoured and loyal to their Greek ruler. Thus about B.C. 320 we visualize the Jewish and Israelitish people with their neighbours both in Palestine and Egypt. About B.C. 314 another of Alexander's generals, Antigonus, king of Phrygia, takes a hand in the game of battledore and shuttlecock, and having some success is a further discordant element, and for the time wrests these unfortunate wretches from Egypt. The Talmud tells us of the horrors of such existence, and that the many wars and disturbances which agitated these times were productive of much and varied evil, and the extremely pious sought, as in the days of the prophets, to withdraw themselves from the world and to consecrate themselves to God by Nazarean vows. A like cause had no doubt much to do with the popularity of our monastic institutions, anticipating these days with the cult of the conscientious objector.
THE EGYPTIAN OVERLORDSHIP.
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| 31. THUS We mark the general turmoil. At last, B.C. 302, the generals come to some sort of arrangement amongst themselves, and in the general partition Palestine and Coele-Syria fall to Egypt. This means that for some eighty years the people are to enjoy comparative quiet. As regards Judea, it meant the payment of a fixed tribute and then their being very much left to their own devices. On the whole this period seems to have been one of prosperity. We had a glimpse of it in the incident related concerning Onias and his withholding the tribute due to Ptolemy Euergetes. So when trouble again overwhelms them we find the Temple has become excessively rich, and on the whole we may assume that the satisfactory conditions known under Persia were revived. During this period we undoubtedly find the orthodox party in the ascendant. The culture and art of the Greek is making its silent way, preparing the soil for the later innovations; but as yet Hellenism is only played with, and forms no serious part of the national life. Turning from Judea we now follow the fortunes of the Jews carried into Alexandrian slavery by Ptolemy, B.C. 320. One great factor differentiates them from those taken into captivity into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. In his case the Jews had refused him help and derided his messengers when he had sent for their assistance. This he never forgot and never forgave, and in the day of his success he made them feel his vengeance to the full. Thus in Babylon they were not only slaves—but hated slaves.
On the contrary in Alexandria, there was no reason for any special ill-feeling between them and the Ptolemies. In fact, it is clear that, as Cyrus found in them a bulwark of his empire against the conquered Assyrian, so did Ptolemy similarly hope to attach them to his house. We remember the conditions of Alexandria as a city. It had no homogeneous population of natives, but was made up of citizens gathered from all parts of the empire. Thus a strong party of friendly Jews entirely devoted to him and dependent on his favour was a valuable asset to himself and his dynasty. Egypt, from its geographical configuration, has been a country where one decisive battle has usually settled the fortunes of war at a stroke. And this explains the gratitude of Julius Caesar later on to the Jews of Palestine when they secured him the goodwill of their brethren in Egypt. So it also explains the fury of a later Ptolemy when he found them coquetting with his enemy the Syrian Greek. In many ways at this time they were worth courting. There is little doubt that the intellectual, travelled Jew was one of the polished scholars of his time. We have the account of Aristotle's meeting with one of them. He was a visitor who had modestly come to learn the wisdom of the Greek, but had stayed to impart rather than receive. Aristotle, who was the tutor of Alexander, took him to be one of the Indian philosophers who were called Calarin. Nor need we go further for proof of their high attainments than the book of Ecclesiasticus, written during this period by an Alexandrian Jew. It is the quintessence of worldly wisdom and one of the great books of mankind, however regarded. And could such fail of appealing to men of broad eclectic sympathies like the Ptolemies? All learning was made welcome in their city, as we know
from the reception which they gave to a Buddhist mission from India. It was all part of a settled policy. Then again, many straws in the stream indicate that the Jews were becoming the bankers of the world. Their very colonies, so numerous and wide-spread, secured them the first essential of such business—the reliable correspondent. No doubt these recurrent periods of storm were to engulf them as well as be bad for trade in general, but they were also to leave them the field very much to themselves. They, like the Phoenicians, disaster pursuing them in one city, had another to flee to, and they were generally prepared for flight. Tobit, captive in Nineveh, had his little nestegg of ten talents of silver in Media. We know their love, even to this day, for precious stones. It is far from born of vanity alone. Great value in small compass ensured them a welcome wherever fortune tossed them. In a tempestuous world portable wealth has · always its especial merits.
32. And in pursuance of this settled policy, in his determination to settle this people in Alexandria, we see Ptolemy Philadelphus liberating them and giving them facilities for the translation of their law into the current Greek. It is so in accord with what a wise ruler would do that it lends probability to the current legend handed down by Josephus. We need not accept the details, though having decided on his line he might, like Alexander, when he greeted Simon, determine to make his act as gracious as possible. Through his librarian having expressed his desire to have such translation, he was thus met by Aristeus, their friend and intermediary. “ It is not fit for us ... not only to get the laws of the Jews transcribed but interpreted also for thy satisfaction . . . while so many of the Jews are now slaves in thy kingdom. Do thou . . . agreeable to thy magnanimity free them from the miserable condition they are in, because that God who supporteth thy kingdom was the author of their laws, as I have learned by particular inquiry; for both these people and we also worship the same
Dany of Pitted also the laws
God, the framer of all things. We call Him and that truly by the name of Znva (or Life, or Jupiter) because He breathes life into all men. Wherefore do thou restore these men to their own country, and this to do the honour of God, because these men pay a peculiarly excellent worship to Him."* And Ptolemy acceded to this request. And more, out of his own treasury paid two million drachmae to their owners for their release, besides sending immense presents to Jerusalem. No wonder doubt is cast on the story, unless behind it all we also read the two magic words, “ value received." Policy would go far in suggesting the freeing of the Jews, but when it came to the payment of actual cash-well, a contribution by those most concerned would probably facilitate matters. But it would have been foreign to any Grecian or Eastern mind of those days to have given a simple reason for a simple action. But one fact emerges : for some reason or other the Jew of Alexandria had become worth the consideration of his rulers.
33. In the Bible Handbookt we get the following interesting account of the Septuagint version thus handed down to us. “The version by 'the seventy' was made in Egypt by Alexandrian Jews. The story of Aristeus—a writer who pretended to be a Gentile and favourite at the court of Ptolemy Philadelphusis that the version was made by seventy-two Jews (six from each tribe), sent to Alexandria, B.C. 285, by Eleazar at the request of Demetrius Phalereus, the king's librarian, and that the whole was completed in seventy-two days. To this story various additions were made, claiming miraculous intervention for the work and infallibility for the translators. Dr. Hody conclusively proved that the narrative could not be authentic, though nothing has been discovered that
* Josephus Antiq., xii. 2, 2.
| Incidentally, this reference by Josephus to the other ten tribes is of interest, confirming the view the “Nineveh Captivity" was not as drastic as sometimes suggested.