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leffer Council of Twenty-three, which was in every City of Judea.
Note, These were called Rulers, or Elders, or Coun. · Sellors ; such were Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Gamaliel.
Note here also, That in the Jewish Talmudical Books, or their fabulous Writings, on which we cannot much depend, we are told, that about this time one Sadoc miftook the Doctrine of Antigonus of Socho his Mafter, who taught, that we ought not to serve God in a servile manner, merely with respect to the Reward: and inferred from hence, that there were no Rewards after this Life, and begun the Sect of the Sadducees ; though it may be justly doubted whether this, and other dangerous Doc. trines of this Sect, arose so early among the Jews.
10 Q. Since the Jews were dispersed into so many Countries, did they not acquaint the Gentiles with their Religion? A. Yes ; for Ptolemy Soter set up a College of learned Men at Alexandria, in Egypt, and began a Library there; which Ptolemy Philadelphus, his youngest Son and Successor, improved no one hundred thousand Volumes: This Prince is reported to have commanded the Hebrew Law to be translated into Greek, to-add to this Library of his, that the Gentiles might read it, and accordingly it was done.
Note, This College of learned Men was encouraged, and the Library increased by several Ptolemies succeffively, till it arose to seven hundred thousand Books; . both these things made Alexandria a famous Place of Residence and Resort for learned Men for several Ages. It happened that the larger half of this Library was burnt by Julius Cæfar in his Alexandrian War: the other part was, by continual Recruits, enlarged to a taster Number than the whole Library before ; .
but 'twas finally burnt and destroyed by the Saracens, in the Year of our Lord 642,
I Q. In what manner is this. Translation reported to be made ? A. Arifteas, the most ancient Writer on this Subject, and "Josephus the Historian, who follows him, acquaint us, that after this Pto-, lemy had gained the Favour of the Jews, by paying the Ransom of a hundred thousand of their Countrymen, who were enslaved in Egypt, he procured six Elders, out of every Tribe of Israel, (which were in all Seventy-two) to come to his Court; and after a Trial of their Wisdom, by some particular Question being put to each of them, he appointed them to translate the Law of Moses, by conferring together about the Sense of it, in the Ine of Pharos : which being afterwards read to him, and approved by him, he gave them a liberal Reward. Upon this Account this TranNation is called the Septuagint, i. e, the Translation of the Seventy, or Seventy-two Elders.
12 Q. But did not this Story, in following times grow much more fabulous ? A. Philo the Jew, whom lived about our Saviour's time, reports, that cach of these Seventy-two Elders were put into a diItinet Cell, and were required to translate the whole Bible apart; and that they performed it fo exactly alike, Word for Word, that it was approved as Miraculous and Divine: And even sevesal Fathers of the Christian Church, being too credulous and fond of Miracles, have received this Story, and conveyed it down in their Writings.
13 Q. How doth it appear to be a Fable ? A. The great imperfection of this Translation, discovers that it was no divine Work, nor performed by Miracle: Besides, the several Contradictions,
and the Uncertainties that are mingled up and down with this Story, do utterly overthrow the Credit of it.
14 Q. Upon the whole View of Things, what is the best Account of this Transation ? A. In the Reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus there was such a Verfion made of the five Books, of Moses by the Jews of Alexandria, into the Greek Language, probably for their own Use, and for the Use of their Countrymen: for the Jews in their Disper-' sions had used themselves to the Greek Tongue, the Conquests of Alexander and his Grecian Army having spread their Language through the World: and when Ptolemy Philadelphus had erected such a noble Library, he was desirous to have this Book reposited there. Whether his Request or Command gave any Occasion to this Translation, is hard to determine.
15 Q. Were not the other sacred Writings tranpated into Greek also, as well as the five Books of Moses ? A. When the Reading of the Prophets as well as the Law came into Use in the Synagogues, many Years afterwards, in the Time of Antiochus Épiphanes, this occafioned a Greek Translation of the Prophets to be made, and so the whole Old Testament was complete, which we now call the Septuagint. ' ;.
16 Q Did the Jews generally come to use this Greek Transation of the Bible? A. In and after the time of Ezra the Scriptures were read to the Jews in Hebrew, and interpreted into the Chaldee Language, which they had learnt in Babylon, and was become most familiar to them. But at Alexandria, after the making of this Greek Version, it was interpreted to them in Greek, which-was afterwards done also in all other Grea. cian Cities, whither the Jews were dispersed. And from hence those Jews were called Hellenists, or Grecizing Jews, because they used the Greek Language in their Synagogues: and by that Name they were distinguished from the Hebrew Zews, who used only the Hebrew and Chaldee Languages in their Synagogues. And this Distinction we find made between them, Aals vi. 1. For the Word which we there translate Grecians, is in the Original 'Emanuesão, i. e. Hellenists. So Dr. Prideaux.
17 Q. But did not the Evangelists and the Apofles, who were the Writers of the New Testament, pay great Honour to this Greek Transation? A. Yes, they cited many Scriptures of the Old Testament, according to this Translation, because it was the best Greek Translation they had ; and it was by this Time well known amongst the Jews in Judea, as well as those who were scattered round the Nations.
18 Q. Did the Jews in Judea continue in Peace under the Government of the Kings of Egypt? A. The Successors of the four Generals of Alexander the Great, who divided the World amongst them, and particularly the Kings of Egypt and Syria, being frequently engaged in Wars for enlarging their Kingdoms, the Jews were reduced to very great Difficulties, and sometimes were at a loss what side to chuse; they were in Danger on both sides, and were sometimes distrest and miserably grinded between the one and the other. . - 19 Q. Did they maintain the Purity of their Temple and Worship? 1. They were often expos.. ed to grievous Difficulties on this Account. When Ptolemy Philopator of Egypt reigned over those Provinces, he would offer up Sacrifices to the God
of Israel for his Success against Antiochus the Great, the Successor of Seleucus, King of Syria; and he was not content to stay in the outer Court, but he would have pressed into the Sanctuary, and even the Holy of Holies.
20 Q. How was be prevented from entering? A. The Priests and the Levites, and all the People lifted up their Hands to God in Prayer, and when the King had passed the inner Court, and was entering into the Temple, he was smitten from God with such Terror and Confusion of Mind, that he was carried out of the Place half. dead.
21 Q. But did not Ptolemy resent this afterwards ? A. He purposed to be revenged on all the 7 ewish Nation: when he came to Alexandria he ordered them to sacrifice to his Gods; and if they refused, he took away their Privileges, which they had enjoyed in Egypt from the Time of Alexander the Great: he ordered them to be enrolled among the common People of Egypt, and to have the Mark of an Ivy-leaf, the Badge of his God Bacchus, impressed upon them by a hot Iron; and those who refused it, Tould be made Slaves, or put to death.
22 Q. What did the Jews of Alexandria do on this Occasion ? A. A few of them forsook their God to gain the Favour of their King : but many thoufands stood firm to their Religion, and though several of them were enrolled, and branded with the Ivy-leaf against their Will, yet they shewed a great Abhorrence of all their Countrymen, that sacrificed to the Gods of the King.
23 Q. How did Ptolemy bear with this Conduet of theirs ? A. He resolved to destroy the whole Nation of the Jews; and therefore, first he or
olemy beam destroy furft be ord