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forward the building of the city and temple, and throughout his book we find him the chief among the Jews, and, many things are repeated as performed by him, which the other Books ascribe to Ezra or Esdras, in fact, I find such a mass of contradiction in the three books, that I can neither make head nor tail of it. In the two Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, there is a list of the families, and their numbers, that returned from Babylon, and the one account is evidently a copy from the other, or both from the same, but in this they have managed to alter the numbers, and one family is represented with a thousand more in one book than the other; some differ one, two, and three hundred, some of them agree, and some have but trivial differences.

There are also two tales in those two books which evidently apply to the same subject, it is on the Jews having, on their return from Babylon, either brought with them, or taken subsequently, wives from strange nations, and having attributed some of their disasters to this circumstance. The merit of reforming this circumstance is claimed both by Ezra and Nehemiah in their several bocks. Ezra is made to use the following language on the subject :

“ And wlien I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied."

The tale then goes on to say, that the Jews listened to the advice of Ezra, and put away their wives and children that were not purely of Jewish descent. Nehemiah, in giving his account of this matter, seems to have proceeded violently. The following is a quotation from the last chapter of his book :

And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smole certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves."

The tale goes on to say, that Nehemiah effectually purged the Jews from their strange wives and children. A mercifuland Jehovah-like circumstance to abandon a multitude of helpless women and children. Now those two tales are not to be taken distinct, they are evidently the same, and which of them are we to believe?

I come now to speak more distinctly of the two Books of Esdras as found in the Apocrypha. The first is a mere abstract of the Book of Ezra and part of the second Book of Chronicles, beginning with the reign of Josias or Josiah, as he is called in

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The latter book. (This difference of names in the different versions of the Holy Writ is very perplexing, for instance, Oshea, Hoshéa, Joshua, Jeshua, Jehoshua, and Jesus are the various names attributed to the successor of Moses !) This first Book of Esdras has some few stories and incidents which are not related in the Book of Ezra, one is an account of three young men contending before Darius as to which was the strongest; Wine, the King, or Women: the advocate of women gains the prize by shewing that even the king is subject to women, and afterwards he passes an eulogium upon the truth, as stronger than all things, and what endureth for ever. If this champion of women and the truth had lived now a day, he would discover, that the latter had been long out of fashion and was still very unfashionable, and scouted, and derided.

The second Book of Esdras begins with running back a genealogy from the author to Aaron, through the famous Hilkiah, who found the book of the law amongst some old rubbish in the temple, and took it to a fortune-telling woman, or original gipsy, to say what it was! Esdras, in this book, assumes the character of a prophet, and sets aside that of the scribe and the priest, and begins his book in the true propheiic stile. And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying," and then runs on into a drift of nonsense like all true prophets. The book is filled with prophetic instructions, some from the word of the Lord, some from a voice in a bush, and some from an angel who comes on purpose to instruct him, and I am sure, my readers will not be disappointed if I pass over the whole, as it is in the true Jewish style, but I shall make a few short extracts, if it is but for my own amusement. I am inclined to think that it was this Esdras, or the person who wrote the books under his name, who, unintentionally, laid the foundation of the Christian religion : he is unquestionably the first to speak of a Saviour for the heathen and a Son of God. I insert the tale:

“ I Esdras received a charge of the Lord upon the Mount Oreb,* that I should go unto Israel ; but when I came unto them, they set me at pought, and despised the compiandment of the Lord. And therefore I say unto you, O ye heathen, that dear and understand; look for your shieplierd, he shall give you everlasting rest ; for he is

* It inay be wondered how Esdras, who was a captive at Babylon, or a priest, or scribe, or prophet, at Jerusalem, should have been upon Mount Horeb, which was situated at a great distance from either, in the wilderness through which scarce any une passed !

Vol. IV. No. 5.

nigh at hand that shall come in the end of the world. Be ready to The reward of the kingdom, for the everlasting shall shine upon you for evermore. Flee the shadow of this world, receive the joyfulness of your glory: I testify my Saviour openly. O receive the gift that is given you, and be glad, giving thanks unto him that hath called you to the heavenly kingdom. Arise up, and stand, behold the number of those that be sealed in the feast of the Lord. Which are departed from the shadow of the world, and have received glorious garnients of the Lord. Take thy number, O Sion, and slint up those of thine that are clothed in white, which have fulfilled the law of the Lord. Tlie number of thy children, whom thou longedst for, is ful. filled : beseech the power of ihe Lord, that. Thy people, which bave been called from the Leginning, may be ballowed!"

“ I, Esdras, saw upon the mount Sion a great people, whom I could not number, and they all praised the Lord with songs. And in the midst of them there was a young man of a high stature, taller than all the rest, and upon every one of their heads he set crowns, and was more exalted; which I marvelled at greatly. So I asked the angel and said, Sir, what are these? He answered and said uuto me, these be they that have put off the mortal clothing, and put on the immortal, and confessed the name of God: 110w are they crowned and receive palms. Then said I unto the angel, What young person is it that crowneth them, and giveth them palms in their liauds ? So he answered, and said unto me, It is the son of God, whom they have .confessed in the world. Then began I greatly to commend them iliat stood so stiffy for the name of the Lord. Then the angel said unto me, Go thy way, and tell ny people what manner of things, and how great wonders of the Lord thy God thou hast seen

The angel is most abruptly introduced into this visionary dialogue. I am inclined to think that this book is the work of a later date, and belongs to some Christian: it is in the true Christian style, and if it could be proyed to me that it was written by the Ezra or Esdras, who was a captive at Babylon, I should have no hesitation in saying, that it was he who laid the foundation of the Christian religion. I should like to hear the opinions of some of the learned Rabbies on this book.

The angel Uriel is made to appear to Esdras' to answer all the questions that might be put to him about the future. After the angel has told him how happy and prosperous some future generations of the Jews are to be, Esdras very wisely asks, what advantage that will be to the past and the present, who have suffered so many hardships, indignities, and miseries; why does not God treat all his chosen people alike? and why, if he be inclined to chasten them for their offences, he does not do it with his own hand, and not make the heathen his instruments? This query basfles the angel, he makes but

a shuming excuse and answer ; and this query, in my opinion, would bafflé a wiser man than the angel Uriel, and must flash conviction on any rational mind, that the Jews are no more the favourites of the God of Nature than


other sect of human beings. The God of Nature makes no distinclions, he is alike the parent of all, and treats all alike: but the Jews, from their superstitious notions, have made themselves miserable, and will continue to do so, and be visible as a distinct sect, as long as they retain those superstitious notions, and the custom of confining their marriages to their own sect. Let them once begin to intermarry and follow the custom in which they may live, and they would be lost sight of in a few years. As long as they practice an idolatry distinct from other people, they will ever remain a distinct people.

I cannot but think that this book is a forgery in the name of Esdras, it is as much in the style of the Christian writers of old, as any thing in the New Testament. The seventh chapter maketh mention of Jesus and Christ as the son of God, who is to die, and then the end of the world, and the resurrection and judyment, and has all the dogmas of the Christian religion as they were received in the first three centuries, of the Christian era. The visions and the similitudes correspond more with the Christian writers than with the Jewish. In fact the Jews could not receive this book and reject the Christian religion, for it contains the very foundation and essence of that religion. There might have been interpolations made in it for the purpose of entrapping the poor Jews, for what I know, for I pretend to no knowledge of the Holy Scriptures beyond the English version, and I have no desire to search for their merits any further. I doubt not, but that the man who is a perfect master of the oriental languages, if he were honest and well disposed, might point out some glaring frauds which are not to be reached in the English language.

I shall insert the fourteenth chapter of the second book of Esdras, and then have done with him, as I can neither make Jew nor Christian of him.

And it came to pass upon the third day, I sat under an oak, and, behold, there came a voice out of a bushi over against me, and said Esdras, Estivas. And I said, here am I, Lord. And I stood up upon my feet. Then said he unto me, in the bush I did manifestly reveal myself unto Moses, and talked with him, when my people served in Egypt. And I sent him, and led my people out of Egypt, and brought him up to the mount of Sinai, where I held him by me a long season, Aud told hija many wondrous things, and shewed him the secrets of

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the times, and the end; and commanded him, saying, These words shalt thou declare, and these words shalt thou hide. And now I say unto thee, That thou lay up in thy heart the signs that I have shewed, and the dreams that thou hast seen, and the interpretations which thou last heard : For thou shalt be taken away from all, and from henceforth thou shalt remain with my son, and with such as be like thee, until the times be ended. For the world hath lost his vouth, and the times begin to wax old. For the world is divided into twelve parts, and the ten parts of it are gone already, and half of a tenth part: and there emaineth that which is after the half of the tenth park. Now therefore set thine house in order, and reprove thy people, comfort such of tliem as be in trouble, and now renounce corruption. Let

from thee mortal thouglits, cast away the burdens of man, put off now the 'weak nature, and set aside the thoughts that are most heavy unto thee, and haste thee to fee from these times, For yet greater evils than those which thou hast seen happen shall be done hereafter. For look how much the world shall be weaker through age, so much the more shall evils increase upon them that dwell therein. For the truth is fled far away, and leasing is hard at hand : for now hasteth the vision to come, which thou hast seen. Then answered I before thee, and said, Behold, Lord, I will go, as thou bast commanded me, and reprove the people which are present; but they that shall be born afterward, who shall aslınonish them. Thus the world is set in darkness, and they that dwell therein are without Jiglit. For thy law is burnt, therefore no man knoweth the things that are doue of thee, or the works that shall begin. But if I have found grace before thee, send the Holy Gliost into me, and I shall write all that hath been done in the world since the beginning, which were written in thy law, that men may find thy path, and that they which will live in the latter days may live. And he answered me, saying, Go thy way, gather the people together, and say unto them, that they seek thee not for forty days. But look thou, prepare thee many box trees, and take with thee Sarea, Dabria, Selenia, Ecanus, and Asiel, these five which are ready to write swifily; and come hither, and I shall light a candle of anderstanding in thine heart, which shall not be put out, till the things be performed which thou shalt begin to write. And when thou hast done, some things shalt thou publish, and some things shalt thou shew secretly to the wise : to-morrow this hour shalt thou begin to write. Then went I forth, as he commanded, and gathered all the people together, and said, hear these words, O Israel. Our fathers at the beginning were strangers in Egypt, from whence they were delivered; und received the law of life, which they kept not, which ye also have transgressed after them. Then was the land, even the land of Sion, parteel among you by lot: but your fathers, and ye yourselves, have done unrighteousness, and have not kept the ways which the Highest commanded you. And forasmuch as he is a righteous judge, he took from you in time the thing that he had given you.

And now are you here, and your brethren among you.

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