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intended to insert something concerning them in his history, God struck him with madness for thirty days; but that, having been informed in a dream that he was mad only because he had wished to know divine things, and make them known to the profane, he asked pardon of God, who restored him to his senses.
Josephus, in the same passage, also relates, that a poet, named Theodectes, having said a few words about the Jews in his tragedies, became blind, and that God did not restore his sight until he had done penance.
As for the Jewish people, it is certain that there was a time when they could not read the divine writings; for it is said in the second book of Kings, and in the second book of Chronicles,† that in the reign of Josias they were unknown, and that a single copy was accidentally found in a chest, in the house of the highpriest Hilkiah.
The twelve tribes which were dispersed by Shalmanezer, have never re-appeared; and their books, if they had any, have been lost with them. The two tribes which were in slavery at Babylon, and allowed to return at the end of seventy years, returned without their books, or at least they were very scarce and very defective, since Esdras was obliged to restore them. But, although, during the Babylonian captivity, these books were apocryphal—that is, hidden, or unknown to the people, they were constantly sacred, they bore the stamp of divinity,-they were, as all the world' agrees, the only monument of truth upon earth.
We now give the name of apocrypha to those books which are not worthy of belief; so subject are languages to change! Catholics and Protestants agree in regarding as apocryphal in this sense, and in rejectingThe prayer of Manasseh king of Judah, contained in the second book of Kings.
The third and fourth books of Maccabees.
The fourth book of Esdras; although these books were incontestably written by Jews. But it is denied
* Chap. xxii, ver. 8.
+ Chap. xxxiv. ver. 14.
that the authors were inspired by God, like the other Jews.
The other books, rejected by the Protestants only, and consequently considered by them as not inspired by God himself, are
The book of Wisdom, though it is written in the same style as the Proverbs.
Ecclesiasticus, though the style is still the same. The two first books of Maccabees, though written by a Jew. But they do not believe this Jew to have been inspired by God.
Tobit, although the story is edifying. The judicious and profound Calmet affirms, that a part of this book was written by Tobit the father, and a part by Tobit the son; and that a third author added the conclusion of the last chapter, which says that Tobit the younger expired at the age of one hundred and twenty-seven years, and that he died rejoicing over the destruction of Nineveh.
The same Calmet, at the end of his preface, has these words:" Neither the story itself nor the manner in which it is told, bears any fabulous or fictitious character. If all Scripture histories, containing anything of the marvellous or extraordinary, were to be rejected, where is the sacred book which could be preserved?"
Judith; although Luther himself declares that "this book is beautiful, good, holy, useful, the language of a holy poet and a prophet animated by the Holy Spirit, which had been his instructor," &c.*
It is indeed hard to discover at what time Judith's adventure happened, or where the town of Bethulia was. The degree of sanctity in Judith's action has also been much disputed; but the book having been declared canonical by the council of Trent, all disputes are at an end.
Baruch, although it is written in the style of all the other prophets.
Esther. The Protestants reject only some additions
* Luther, in the German preface to the Book of Judith,
after the tenth chapter. They admit all the rest of the book; yet no one knows who king Ahasuerus was, although he is the principal person in the story.
Daniel. The Protestants retrench Susannah's adventure, and that of the children in the furnace; but they retain Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and his grazing with the beasts.
On the Life of Moses, an apocryphal book of the highest antiquity.
The ancient book which contains the life and death of Moses, seems to have been written at the time of the Babylonian captivity. It was then that the Jews began to know the names given to the angels by the Chaldeans and Persians.*
Here we see the names of Zinguiel, Samael, Tsakon, Lakah, and many others, of which the Jews had made no mention.
The book of the death of Moses seems to have been posterior. It is known that the Jews had several very ancient lives of Moses and other books, independently of the Pentateuch. In them he was called Moni, not Moses; and it is asserted that mo signified water, and ni the particle of. He was called by the general name of Melk. He received those of Joakim, Adamosi, Thetmosi; and, especially, it has been thought that he was the same person whom Manethon calls Ozarziph.
Some of these old Hebrew manuscripts were withdrawn from their covering of dust in the cabinets of the Jews, about the year 1517. The learned Gilbert Gaumin, who was a perfect master of their language, translated them into Latin about the year 1535. They were afterwards printed, and dedicated to cardinal Bérule. The copies have become extremely scarce.
Never were rabbinism, the taste for the marvellous, and the imagination of the Orientals, displayed to greater excess.
* See ANGEls.
Fragment of the Life of Moses.
A hundred and thirty years after the settling of the Jews in Egypt, and sixty years after the death of the patriarch Joseph, Pharaoh, while sleeping, had a dream. He saw an old man holding a balance: in one scale were all the inhabitants of Egypt; in the other was an infant; and this infant weighed more than all the Egyptians together. Pharaoh forthwith called together his shotim, or sages. One of the wise men said "O king, this infant is a Jew, who will one day do great evil to your kingdom. Cause all the children of the Jews to be slain; thus shalt thou save thy empire, if, indeed, the decrees of fate can be opposed."
Pharaoh was pleased with this advice. He sent for the midwives, and ordered them to strangle all the male children of which the Jewesses were delivered. There was in Egypt a man named Abraham son of Keath, husband to Jocabed, sister to his brother. This Jocabed bore him a daughter named Mary, signifying persecuted, because the Egyptians, being descended from Ham, persecuted the Israelites, who were evidently descended from Shem. Jocabed afterwards brought forth Aaron,-signifying condemned to death, because Pharaoh had condemned all the Jewish infants to death, Aaron and Mary were preserved by the angels of the Lord, who nursed them in the fields, and restored them to their parents when they had reached the period of adolescence.
At length, Jocabed had a third child: this was Moses, who, consequently, was fifteen years younger than his brother. He was exposed on the Nile. Pharaoh's daughter found him while bathing, had him nursed, and adopted him as her son, although she was not married.
Three years after, her father Pharaoh took a fresh wife, on which occasion he held a great feast. His wife was at his right hand, and at his left was his daughter, with little Moses. The child, in sport, took the crown and put it on his head. Balaam the magician, the king's eunuch, then recollected His Majesty's
dream. ،، Behold," said he, "the child who is one day to do you, so much mischief! The spirit of God is in him. What he has just now done is a proof that he has already formed the design of dethroning you. He must instantly be put to death." This idea pleased Pharaoh much.
They were about to kill little Moses; when the Lord immediately sent his angel Gabriel, disguised as one of Pharaoh's officers, to say to him, "My lord, we should not put to death an innocent child, which is not yet come to years of discretion; he put on your crown only because he wants judgment. You have only to let a ruby and a burning coal be presented to him if he choose the coal, it is clear that he is a blockhead, who will never do any harm; but if he take the ruby, it will be a sign that he has too much sense to burn his fingers ;-then, let him be slain."
A ruby and a coal were immediately brought. Moses did not fail to take the ruby; but the angel Gabriel, by a sort of legerdemain, slipped the coal into the place of the precious stone. Moses put the coal into his mouth, and burned his tongue so horribly that he stammered ever after; and this was the reason that the Jewish lawgiver could never articulate.
Moses was fifteen years old, and a favourite with Pharaoh. A Hebrew came to complain to him, that an Egyptian had beaten him, after lying with his wife. Moses killed the Egyptian. Pharaoh ordered Moses' head to be cut off. The executioner struck him; but God instantly changed Moses' neck into a marble column, and sent the angel Michael, who in three days conducted Moses beyond the frontiers.
The young Hebrew fled to Mecano, King of Ethiopia, who was at war with the Arabs. Mecano made him his general-in-chief; and, after Mecano's death, Moses was chosen king, and married the widow. But Moses, ashamed to have married the wife of his lord, dared not to enjoy her, but placed a sword in the bed, betwixt himself and the queen. He lived with her forty years without touching her. The angry queen at length called together the states of the kingdom of