Page images
PDF
EPUB

lowed a famine in Egypt. Bocchoris, in this distress, sent to consult the oracle of Jupiter Ammon, about the dearth. The answer was, that he should purify the temples, by sending away all unclean and impious persons out of them into the desert, and drowning those that were ulcerated and leprous : for the sun itself had a horror for so abominable a sight : which being done, the earth should bring forth fruit again, and nature return to her course. Boechoris, upon this, calls his priests and diviners about him; and with their advice, orders the sick people to be gathered together, and delivered up to the soldiers : the lepers to be wrapped up in lead, and cast into the sea; and the others to be carried into the wilderness, and there exposed to destruction. The night coming on, these poor people began to think what to do with themselves : they made fires, set watches and guards, and the next night kept a fast, to reconcile themselves to the gods whom they had offended. The day following there was one Moses that advised them to decamp, and march on together till they met with better accommodation; with a charge to do no good offices upon the way, nor so much as to give any man good counsel that should desire it; and likewise to break down all the temples and altars they found in their march. These proposals were no sooner approved, and the resolution taken, than the multitude presently put themselves upon the march over the wilderness; and, after many hardships, came at last into a country that was both cultivated and peopled. They treated the inbabitants cruelly in the highest degree, burnt and pillaged their temples, came in the end 10 a place that they now call Judea, and built a city there by the name of Hierosyla, (according to the occasion,) being as much as to say, The spoil of holy things : but coming afterward into power and reputation, they were ashamed of their own name, changed Hierosyla into Hierosolyma, and called themselves after their city.”

It is here observable, that this last fabulist does not discover or mention the same king with the others, but feigns a more modern name, and passing over the dream and the Egyptian prophet, brings him to Jupiter Ammon, to ask counsel concerning the lepers, and other unclean persons. He says, that the Jews gathered together in multitudes about the temples. Now it is uncertain whether he ascribes this appellation to the lepers, or to those that were subject to such diseases among the Jews only; for he seems so to restrict it in calling them the people of the Jews. But why not be explicit, and point out whether he means vatives or strangers ? If Egyptians, wherefore call them Jews? If strangers, why not inform us whence they came ? If, by command of the king, so many were drowned, and the rest cast out to deserts, it is extraordinary that there should be so great a multitude remaining, which should pass the wilderness, possess the country, build a city, and erect a temple celebrated throughout the world.

Again, how comes it to pass that he mentions barely the name of our legislator, without a word concerning his country, his person, or bis descent? or without assigning the reasons for his making such extravagant laws in his passage, to the dishonour both of gods and men ? Either these exiles were Egyptians or not: if they were, they would not so suddenly have changed the customs of their country. If they were not, they had certainly manners of their own, which they attained from long habit. It is likewise to be considered, that, if they had bound themselves by oath never to bear good will towards those who ejected them, they had a plausible reason for so doing : but for men, in their wretched plight, to wage an implacable war against all mankind, nothing could argue greater folly, or even phrenzy, but the attempt to impose so monstrous a fiction upon rational and intelligent beings. He has the effrontery to affirm, that a name implying “ robbers of the temple" was given to the city, and that this name was afterward changed. But how was it that the very name, which at that time, according to his report, was so great a scandal to the city, should afterward be accounted the bighest honour to its inhabitants ? It seems that this malevolent dealer in fiction imagined, ignorantly imagined, that the word Hierosolyma implied the same thing in Hebrew as it did in Greek. But wherefore multiply words to detect an imposture so glaringly manifest, especially since it is presumed, that the very face of the narrative bears a stamp of the fallacy of its author ? 1 shall proceed, therefore, in the following book, to accomplish my design.

JOSEPHUS

IN ANSWER TO APION.

BOOK II.

HAVING, in the former book, most excellent Epaphroditus, demonstrated the antiquity of our pation, and confirmed the truth of what I advanced, from the writings of the Phænicians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians, together with those of several Greek authors, in my remarks upon Manethon, Cheremon, and others of our enemies, I shall now direct my attention to personal opponents, and, in the first place to Apion, the grammarian, if he may be deemed worthy of notice.

His writings contain much the same accusations as those with which we have been charged by others. They are contemptible, dull, and scurrilous Palpable ignorance, and malevolent calumny, pervade the whole ; insomuch that they bespeak at once, the author's want of judgment, of learning, and of candour.

But as the frivolous part of mankind far exceed the considerate and discerning, and the illiberal delight rather in detraction than encomium of character, I find myself under some kind of necessity to detect and expose the errors of this man, who has the arrogance to make himself judge in the cause; and I am particularly induced to the undertaking, from considering that persons, in general, are gratified in finding reproach and scandal retaliated upon their authors.

His manner of writing is so dark and intricate, that his meaning frequently cannot be easily conceived; and his stories abound with contradictions and inconsistencies. At one time be misrepresents the circumstance of the departure of our forefathers out of Egypt, in the same inanner with those which I have already confuted. At another he inveighs against the Jews of Alexandria : and then breaks forth into most outrageous clamours against the rites and ceremonies of our temple and worship.

Now, although I cannot but think I have already abundantly demonstrated, that our forefathers were not originally from Egypt, nor thence expelled on account of bodily diseases, or any similar calamities, yet I hold it expedient to animadvert particularly on what Apion advances in the third book of his Egyptian History, where he thus writes : “ I have heard, from some ancient men of Egypt, that Moses was a native of Heliopolis ; that the people formerly had their religious meetings in the open air, till Moses, who was well skilled in the worship of his country, brought their congregation out of the fields, into private houses in the city, enjoining the people to address their prayers still towards the sun." He adds, “ That with respect to the situation of the place, there were, instead of obelisks, certain pillars, advanced upon the figures of basins, with engravings upon them; and the shadow falling upon the basins, (for all was open above) still as the sun moved, the shadow moved along with it."

This was the professed opinion of our grammarian; to confute which I shall not cite any authority from myself, but only advert to the writings of Moses. It is manifest from his works, that, when he first erected a tabernacle, for the purpose of divine worship, he neither gave orders himself for any such representation to be made, nor ordained that those who came after him should make such a one. When, in a future age, Solomon built his temple in Jerusalem, he avoided all such fantastical decorations as Apion hath here devised.

With respect to the authority he cites, of the old men who juformed him that Moses was a native of Heliopolis, it seems he was too young to know it himself, and therefore consulted some of his cotemporaries, who, he says, were well acquainted with him, a suggestion pregnant with absurdity. This grammarian could not find out the country either of Homer or Pythagoras, though the latter was in comparison but of yesterday. Why then so positive in the case of Moses, who lived so many ages before them, and all this upon the credit of his ancient men ?

Nor are these historians less divided as to chronological determination of the time when Moses led the lepers, the lame, and the blind, out of Egypt. According to Manethon, it was in the reign of Tethimosis, three hundred and ninety-three years before Danus fed into Argos. According to Lysimachus, it was in the reign of king Bocchoris, that is, one thousand seven hundred years ago. Molon, and some others, determined it as they pleased. But Apion, who claims more authenticity than all the rest, determines it to have been precisely upon the first year of the seventh Olympiad; the very year, he says, of the building of Carthage. He makes. mention of Carthage as a token that would infallibly confirm the truth of his computation. But he was not aware that, by this means, he furnished arguments and evidence against himself, at least if any credit may be given, in this case, to the Phænician records. For we find in them, that Hiram lived at least a hundred and fifty years before the building of Carthage, and that he had a particular friendship, and indeed veneration for Solomon, the founder of the temple at Jerusalem, and contributed materials in abundance towards the perfecting of that work. But Solomon, in fine, laid the foundations of the temple six hundred and twelve years after the Jews came out of Egypt.

As to the number of Jews that were expelled out of Egypt, Apion agrees with Lysimachus, that they were a hundred and ten thousand. But the origin he gives of the word Sabbath is frivolous and nugatory beyond expression. He says, that, “ when the Jews had travelled a six days' journey, they had inflammations about the groin, and that, for this cause, they rested the seventh day. Being safely arrived in the country now called Judea, they gave that day the name of the Sabbath, from the Egyptian word Sabbarosis, which signifies the disease of the groin.Could any thing more absurd or ridiculous be imposed on the credulity of mankind under the sanction of bistory ? A hundred and ten thousand men all labouring under the same disease! If they were blind likewise, lame and languishing, as Apion elsewhere reports them, how could such an infirm multitude hold out so much as one day's journey in the desert? Besides, they were to cut their way through all opposition. The improbability of a hundred and ten thousand men falling into the same disease, at the same time, must be uni

VOL. w.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »