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have in the Old. It has been thought that during the captivity, the Hebrew language ceased to be vernacular among the Jews, and that they brought back from Babylon the Chaldaic instead of it. This has been urged against the views we have given of Gehenna, and in favour of its meaning a place of endless misery. In reply to this, it ought to be noticed, that the supposed fact on which this objection is founded, is disputed by the learned. Mr. Parkhurst, in his Lexicon, on the word Ebrais, p. 181. thus writes:-"A strange notion originally derived from the Jewish rabbins, the descendants of those who crucified the Lord of Life, hath prevailed, and is but too generally received, that, during the Babylonish captivity, the Hebrew language ceased to be vernacular among the Jews, and it is pretended that they brought back the Chaldee er Babylonish, instead of it; and, in consequence, that the language commonly spoken in Judea in our Saviour's time was not Hebrew, but Syriac, or SyroChaldaic. But
"1st, Prejudice apart, is it probable that any people should lose their native language in a captivity of no longer than seventy years continuance? (Comp. Ezra ii. 12. Hag. iii. 2.) And is it not still less probable that a people so tenacious of their law as the Jews, should yet be so negligent of their language, wherein that law, both religious and civil was contained, as to suffer such a loss, and exchange their mother tongue for that of their detested and idolatrous enemies; especially since they had been assured by the prophet Jeremiah, chap. xxv. 11, 12. xxvii. 22.; xxix. 10. (comp. Dan. ix. 2.) that after a captivity of no more than seventy years they should be restored to their own land? But
"2dly, It appears from Scripture, that under the• captivity the Jews retained not only their language, but their manner of writing it, or the form and fashion of
their letters. Else, what meaneth Esth. viii. 9. where we read that the decree of Ahasuerus, or Artaxerxes Longimanus, was written unto every province according to the writing thereof, and unto every people after their language, and to the Jews according to their writ ing and according to their language? (Comp. Esther i. Ezra iv. 7.) And let it be remarked, that this decree was issued, according to Prideaux, Connect. part i. book 5. five years after Ezra had obtained his commission for his return to Jerusalem with those of his nation, of which see Ezra vii.
"3dly, Ezekiel, who prophesied during the captivity, to the Jews in Chaldea, wrote and published his prophecies in Hebrew.' Leland's Reflections on lord Bolinbroke's Letters, p. 229, 3d edit. where see
"4thly, The prophets who flourished soon after the return of the Jews to their own country, namely Haggai and Zechariah, prophesied to them in Hebrew, and so did Malachi, who seems to have delivered his prophecy about an hundred years after that event. Now if Chaldee was the vernacular language of the Jews after the captivity, what tolerable reason can be assigned why those inspired men addressed not only the priests and great men, but also the body of the people, in Hebrew, and did not, as Daniel and Ezra have sometimes done, use the Chaldee language? It is, I think, by no means sufficient to answer, with bishop Walton, that they did this because the rest of the sacred books were written in Hebrew; for if there were any force in this reason, it would prove that Daniel also and Ezra ought to have written in Hebrew only.
5thly, Nehemiah, who was governor of the Jews about a hundred years after their return from Babylon, not only wrote his book in Hebrew, but in chap. xiii. 23, 24. complains that some of the Jews, during
bis absence, had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab, and that their children could not speak '', the Jews' language, but spake a mixed tongue. Now n is Hebrew, as appears from all the other passages in which it occurs, viz. 2 Kings xviii. 26, 28. 2 Chron. xxxii. 18. Isai. xxxvi. 11, 13. But how impertinent is the remark, and how foolish the complaint of Nehemiah appears to be, that the children of some Jews, who had taken foreigners for wives, could not speak pure Hebrew, if that tongue had ceased to be vernacular among the people in general a hundred years before that period? So that (to use the words of the learned Spearman, to whom I am greatly indebted in the above observations,) this very text of Nehemiah, I think, refutes the received supposition of the Hebrew being lost in the Babylonish captivity.'
"6thly, It is highly absurd and unreasonable to suppose that the writers of the New Testament used the term Hebrew to signify a different language from that which the Grecizing Jews denoted by that name; but the language which those Jews called Hebrew after the Babylonish captivity, was not Syriac or Chaldee, but the same in which the law and the prophets were written. This appears from the prologue to Ecclesiasticus, which, according to Prideaux, was penned by the grandson of Jesus about 132 years before Christ; for he there observes, that 'the same things uttered in Hebrew and translated into another tongue, have not the same force in them; and not only these things (this book of Ecclesiasticus) but the law itself, and the prophets, and the rest of the books have no small difference, when they are spoken in their own language.'
"Lastly, It may be worth adding, that Josephus, who frequently uses the expressions την ΕΒΡΑΙΩΝ δια λεκτον, γλωτταν την ΕΒΡΑΙΩΝ, ΕΒΡΑΪΣΤΙ, for the language
in which Moses wrote (see inter al. Ant. lib. i. cap. i. § 1, 2. comp. lib. x. cap. i. § 2.) tells us, De Bell. lib. vi. cap. ii. 1. that towards the conclusion of the siege of Jerusalem he addressed not only John, the com mander of the Zealots, but Tois wonλois, the (Jewish) multitude, who were with him, 'EBPAIZON in the Hebrew tongue, which was therefore the common language of the Jews at that time, i.e. about forty years after our Saviour's death. Comp. Ant. lib. xviii. cap. vii. § 10.
"On the whole, I conclude that the Jews did not exchange the Hebrew for the Chaldee language at the captivity, and that the terms Ἑβραῖς, Εβραϊκος, Εβραϊςι, in the New Testament, denote, not the Syriac, or Syro-Chaldaic, but the Hebrew language, commonly so called; though I readily grant that this language, especially as it is spoken by the Galileans (see Mark xiv. 73. Matth. xxvi. 73. and under Faλaos,) had in our Saviour's time deflected from its ancient purity, as particularly appears, I think, from the words Αββα, Ακελδαμα, Βοανερίες, Γολίαθα, which see in their proper places."
We give this just as we find it, and leave those who choose to investigate the subject to determine it. But in whatever way this point is determined, we are unable to perceive its bearing against the views we have advanced about Gehenna. Admitting that a great change took place in the language of the Jews during their captivity, if the Jews by this word did not understand a place of eternal misery from their Scriptures before they went to Babylon, yet understood it so after they returned, it follows, that this notion was learned during the captivity. This we think is no honour to the doctrine, nor is it authority for a moment to be regarded. However great the change of language of the Jews was during the captivity, we think it has been proved that our Lord uses the term
Gehenna in the sense it was used by the prophet Jeremiah, as an emblem of temporal calamities. Until this is disproved, and it can be established that this change of the Jewish language gave such a different sense to this word as the objector supposes, it does not deserve a serious consideration.
But though the idea of a place of future misery was learned by the Jews from the heathen, yet their giving it the name Gehenna was of a later date. This
think is evident from considering that neither Nehemiah, Ezra, nor any Old Testament writer, after the captivity, ever speak of this doctrine, nor apply this word to it. The fact is, that whatever change, either the ideas or the language of the Jews underwent in Babylon, there is no proof to be derived from the Old Testament, that Gehenna was changed in sense from being an emblem of temporal punishment, to being made an emblem of endless misery. We presume no person will pretend, that any proof can be produced of this. Let us then be informed upon what rational and Scriptural grounds this term was so differently understood by the inspired writers of the New from those of the Old Testament. There must be a conscious lack of evidence, to urge the change which the Jewish language underwent in Babylon, as any proof that our Lord used the term Gehenna to express a place of endless punishment for the wicked. It is rather exploding the doctrine than proving it, to have recourse to such means in establishing it.
It has been urged as an objection-that though the Targums are not good authority to prove any doctrine, yet they are sufficient testimony in showing in what sense Gehenna was used among the Jews, about our Saviour's time, and it is evident from them that it expressed a place of endless misery. It is readily allowed, that their authority is good in proving, that the Jews at that period did use Gehenna to signify such a place of punishment,