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Now it is only a very brief Abstract of the History of the Jews which I endeavour here to set before the Reader, that he may get a little Acquaintance with the Affairs of the Jews, or the Church of God, from the Days of Nehemiah, when Scripture-history ends, to the Beginning of the Gospel, and the Times of Christ. A great Part of it must be taken originally from Josephus, the Jewish Historian, and from the Book's of Maccabees, which I have consulted upon this Occasion ; but I have borrowed much further Light and Alsistance from Dr. Prideaux in this Matter, whose laborious Collection from Heathen Writings; and his judicious Determination in many dubious Points, has rendered his Work more complete and accu-rate, and mine much more easy.
ow.consulted the Book op hus, the
Sect. I. OF NEHEMIAH's further Re
formation, Synagogues, Targums, Samaritans, Profelytes, &c.
Note, This Chapter being so long, the Quefions of each Section shall be numbered apart. Q. T HAT further Reformation did Nehe
W miah make in Israel? A. It is reported by the Jews, that he himself, together with Ezra the Scribe, having found a great Want of the Knowledge of the Law among the People, did about this time, appoint the reading of the Law in the several Towns and Cities : And on this Occafion, it is supposed, that Synagogues began to be built throughout the Land, or at least to be restored and renewed, if there had been any built before,
2 Q. Where were these Synagogues to be built? A. According to the Account which the Jews have.given us, they might be built in any Town wheresoever they could find ten Persons of full Age, and of such Condition and easy Circumstances of Life, as to be always at leisure to attend the Service.
3 Q. What was the Service performed in the Sje nagogues? A. Prayers and Praises to God, Reading the holy Scriptures, and Preaching and Ex. pounding them.
4 Q. In what manner were the Scriptures ex. pounded? A. The Jews and their Pofterity haying loft much of their own Language in Babylon, did not so well understand the Scriptures in the Hebrew Tongue ; and therefore when Ezra read the Law to the People, the Sense was given to them in Chaldee, by many Levites who stood by, and caused them to understand the reading, Nehem. viji. 4–8. And this manner of reading the Scripture, Verse by Verse, and translating it into the Chaldee, with some little Paraphrase upon it, was the manner of Expounding used in the ancient Synagogues.
Note 1. This was the Original of the Jewift Targums, which Wordt in Chaldee fignifies an Interpretation : for when Synagogues were multiplied among the Jews, beyond the Number of able Interpreters, it be- ! camé necessary that such Translations of the Hebrew into Chaldee, should be made for the Use of the Teachers and the People; and that in private Families also, as well as in Synagogues.
There were antiently many of these Targums, or Tranflations, or Expositions, and that upon different parts of Scripture, and of different forts, as there were also many different Verfions of the Seripture into
Greek, in following Ages, for the same Purposes. Se. 'veral of these Targums are lost, through length of Time : but the chief of those which remain to this Day, is the Targum or Chaidee Paraphrase of Onkelos, upon the Law of Moses; and the Targ um ot Jonathan Ben Uzziel upon the Prophets; both which, some learned Men suppose, to be written before Christ, and are, by the Jous, valued as equal to the Hebrew Text. As for the Jerusalim Targum, it is an Exposition upon the Law, and uthers are on different Parts of Scripture ; but they are all of less Elteem, and of much later Date : But neither the one nor the other of the Targ ums were much known to the primitive Christian Writers, though these Expositions greatly favour the Christian Cause. · Note 2. Among the Jews, the Books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, &c. are sometimes called the former Prophets; and the Book of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve minor Prophets, are called the latter Prophets ; but they are all called the Prophets: Thus the Law and the Prophets make up the whole Bible.
Note 3. That there are in Daniel two hundred Verses of the Bible written originally in Chaldee, and fixty seven in Ezra, and one Verse in Jeremiah, viz. Chap. X. U. And some suppose, for this Reason, there is no Targum on Daniel and Ezra; neither, indeed, is there on Nehemiah, though that Book be called Hebrew.
5 Q. What were the Times appointed for this Service in the Synagogue ? A. Two Days in the Week, besides the Sabbath, and their other Festivals: The Law being divided into so many Sections or Lessons as there are Weeks in their Year, they read half a Lesson on Monday Morning, and the other half on Thursday Morning; and this same whole Lesson they read on the Sabbath, both Morning and Afternoon, Aets xv. 21. We are
told that reading the Law was a Custom of an.. cient times on the Sabbath ; and when reading of the Prophets was added to that of the Law, they observed the fame Order in it.
6 Q. What were their Hours of the daily Prayer ? A. At the time of Morning and Evening Sacrifice and Incense, Luke i. 9, 10. Aets iii. 1. While Zacharias was offering Incense, the People were , praying in the Court: And Peter and John went up to pray in the Temple at this Tine. To these Hours they conformed their Prayers in the Temple, and in their Synagogues, and usually too in their own Houses.
ties. Note, The Jews supposed that the offering up of the daily Sacrifices, and the burning of Incense at the same Time, were defigned to render God propitious to them, and make their Prayers acceptable; and for this Reason they conformed their Times of Prayer to these Hours. So David prays, Psalm cxli. 2. Let my Prayer be fet forth before thee as Incense, &c. And Rev. viii. 4, 5. mg And the Smoke of the Incense which came with the Prayers of the Saints, ascended up before God out : of the Angels Hands.
72. Had they any other Season of Prayer besides these two ? A. The Jews inform us, that besides these they had a Prayer at the Beginning of Night, while the Evening Sacrifice was left burning on the Altar, Thus, by their three Prayers in a Day, they imitated the Ancients. David prayed Morning, Noon, and Evening, Pfalm lvii. 17. Daniel prayed three Times a Day, Dan. vi. 10. ,
8 Q. Who ministered in the Service of the Sye nagogue ? A. The Priest and Levites were consecrated to the Service of the Temple, but for the Services of the Synagogue, Persons of any Tribe
were appointed by some Elders of that Town, who were called Rulers of the Synagogue. So our Saviour being of the Tribe of Judah read and expounded in the Synagogue, Luke iv. 16. So after the reading the Law and the Prophets, Paul and Silas were engaged in Preaching, when the Master of the Synagogue asked them for a Word of Exhortation for the People, Aets xiii. 15.
9 Q. But were there not other places of Prayer diflin&t from the Synagogues? A. The Synagogues were sometimes called Prayer-houses, yet there were Prayer-houses called Profeuchai, which differed from Synagogues in three refpects. (1.) Synagogues were built for publick Worship, but these Places of Prayer for any one's private Devotions occasionally. (2.) Synagogues were covered Houses, but the Places of Prayer were Courts or Inclosures with Walls, and open to the Sky. (3.) Synagogues were chiefly in Towns or Cities, the Prayer-houses in open Fields, or on Mountains: Such are mentioned where our Saviour spent a whole Night in the Prayer-house, as it should be translated, Luke vi. 12. and thither pious Persons reforted, and Prayer was wont to be made, Acts xvi. 13, 16. ...
10 Q. Is there any Certainty that there were any Synagogues before this Time? A. That there were some Places of Affembly for divine Things in the Land of Israel, before the Destruction of Jerufalem and the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar, seems pretty plain from Pfal. lxxiv. 7,8. They have burnt up all the Synagogues of God in the Land. Though they might be but very few, and not established by any Authority, nor lo constantly attended as afterward. And yet, considering that the Jews fell fo frequently into Idolatry before, and had so few Copies of the Law, 'tis questioned by some learned