« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
the beginning. How astonishing it is that an enemy should have done this! that he should have persevered: resolutely and calmly to the end of his work ! not indeed always calmly; for there is sometimes a note of execration on the Sacred Person who is the subject of it, to : unburden his mind and ease the conflict of his labouring: soul. At the close of the Gospels, as if afraid of the converting power of his own translation, he calls heaven to witness that he had undertaken the work with the professed design of opposing the Epicureans ;' by which term he contemptuously means the Christians.
• I have had many interesting conferences with the Jews, on the subject of their present state ; and have been much struck with two circumstances; their constant reference to the DESOLATION of Jerusalem, and their confident hope that it will be one day REBUILT. The desolation of the Holy City is ever present to the minds of the Jews, when the subject is concerning themselves as a Nation ; for, though without; a king, and without a country, they constantly speak of the unity of their nation. Distance of time and place seems to have no effect in obliterating the remembrance of the Desolation, I often thought of the verse in the Psalms, . If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. They speak of Palestine as being close at hand, and easily accessible. It is become an ordinance of their Rabbins in some places, that when a man builds a new house, he shall leave a small part of it unfinished, as an emblem of ruin, and write on it these words, Zecher Lachorchan, i. e. In MEMORY of the DESOLATION.
• Their hopes of REBUILDING the walls of Jerusalem, the THIRD and last time, under the auspices of the Messiah, or of a second Cyrus, before his coming, are always expressed with great confidence. They have a general impression, that the period of their liberation from the Heathen is not very remote ; and they consider the present commotions in the earth as gradually loosening their bonds. It is,' say they, ' a sure sign of our approaching restoration, that in almost all countries there is a GENERAL RELAXATION of the persecution against us. I pressed strongly upon them the prophecies of Daniel. In former times that Prophet was not in repute among the Jews, because he predicted the coming of the Messiah at the end of the seventy weeks ;' and his book has been actually removed from the list of prophetic writings, and remains, to this day, among the Hagiographa, such as Job, the Psalms, the Proverbs, Ruth; but he now begins to be popular among those who have studied him, because he has predicted that the final accomplishment of the indignation against the holy people' is near at hand.
The strongest argument to press upon the mind of a Jew, at this period, is to explain to his conviction Daniel's period of 1260 years; and then to shew the analogy which it bears to the period of the Evangelist John, concerning the Papal and Mahomedan powers; with the state of which the Jews are well acquainted.
I passed through the burial-ground of the Jews the other day. Some of the tombs are handsomely constructed, and have Hebrew inscriptions in prose and
This mansion of the dead is called by the Jews, Beth Haiim, or, · The House of the Living;'
• Being much gratified with my visit to the Jews of Malabar, and desirous to maintain some communication with them, I have engaged a very respectable member of their community to accompany me with his servant to Bengal, and to remain with me in the capacity of Hebrew Moonshee, or teacher, until my return to England. Observing that in the houses of the White Jews there are many volumes of printed Hebrew, mostly of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which are rarely met with in England, I have employed Misrahi, that is the name of my Moonshee, to collect some of the most valuable.'
At the beginning of the following year (1808) the Author visited Cochin a second time, and proceeded afterwards to Bombay, where he had an opportunity of meeting with some very intelligent men of the Jewish nation. They had heard of his conferences with the Cochin Jews, and were desirous to discuss certain topics, particularly the prophecies of Isaiah; and they engaged in them with far more spirit and frankness, he thought, than their brethren at Cochin had done. They told him, that if he would take a walk to the Bazar in the suburb, without the walls of Bombay town, he would find a Synagogue without a Sepher Tora, or book of the Law. He did so, and found it to be the case, The minister and a few of the Jews assembled, and shewed him their Synagogue, in which there
were some loose leaves of prayers in manuscript, ; but no book of the Law. The Author did not understand that they disapproved of the Law; but they had no copy of it. They seemed to have little knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures or history. This only proved what he had been often told, that small portions of the Jewish nation melt away from time to time, and are absorbed in the mass of the heathen world, Nor is this any argument against the truth of the prophecy, which declares that they should remain a separate and distinct people ; for these are mere exceptions. Conversions to Christianity in the early ages would equally militate against the prediction, taken in an absolute sense.
THE TEN TRIBES.
The Tribes of Israel are no longer to be inquired after by name. The purpose, for which they were once divided into tribes, was accomplished when the genealogy of the Messiah was traced to the stem of David. Neither do the Israelites themselves know certainly from what families they are descended. And this is a chief argu
ment against the Jews, to which the Author never heard that a Jew could make a sensible reply. The tribe of Judah was selected as that from which the Messiah should come; and behold, the Jews do not know which of them are of the tribe of Judah.
While the Author was amongst the Jews of Malabar, he made frequent inquiries concerning the Ten Tribes. When he mentioned that it was the opinion of some, that they had migrated from the Chaldean provinces, he was asked to what country we supposed they had gone, and whether we had ever heard of their moving in a great army on such an expedition.
It will be easy perhaps to shew, that the great body of the Ten Tribes remain to this day in the countries to which they were first carried captive. If we can discover where they were in the first century of the Christian Era, which was seven hundred years after the carrying away to Babylon, and again where they were in the fifth century, we certainly may be able to trace them up to this time.
Josephus, who wrote in the reign of Vespasian, recites a speech made by King Agrippa to the Jews, wherein he exhorts them to submit to the Romans, and expostulates with them in these words :" What, do you