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the Egyptians. I have examined, so far as I know, all their authorities for it, and they appear to me by no means any good foundation for the superstructure they raise thereon, which I hope will be now also the judgment of the reader.
Mr. Voltaire's assertion, that the Jews imitated the cire
cumcision of the Arabs examined, and fume reflections upon the manner and time of the Egyptians beginning the use of circumcision, which conclude this article.
As to Mr. Voltaire's saying, in the same fentence which was already produced, that the Jews imitated the circumcision of the Arabs, it is a position which cannot detain us long; for I do not know any antient writer who affords any handle for pretending they took it froin them. Indeed, I know no author of this class at all, who mentions the prevalence of circumcision
the Arabs by name, except Josephus, who, in a passage * before quoted, tells us, • That being Ishmael's descendants, they circumcise • their children in the thirteenth year.' But it is remony, which is all Josephus aimed to establish. At any rate, whether these words relate to circumcision chiefly or not, they cannot authorize us to conclude, that Jofephus thought the Jews derived circumcision from Egypt, or that his countrymen owned it, after what hath been ob. served on the import of such phrases, part 1. fect. 2. P. 9, 10. &c.
* See part I sect last, p.41. Antiq. 1. 12. 2. Apabes de Meta ετος τρισκαιδεκατον (εθος έχεσι) ποιειοθαι τας περιτομας: Ισμαηλος γαρο κτισης τα εθνος, Αβραμω γενομενος εκ της παλλακης, εν τατο περιτέμνετα τα χρονω' περι
☆ τον παντα λογον εκθησομαι μετα πολ. ang cexpibetas. This treatise of Josephus, however, concerning circumcision, if ever he wrote it, is loft, so that no light can be derived from it,
plain he furnishes no pretence to affirm, it was observed by them antecedently to its appointment unto Abraham: for he makes their being sprung from Ishmael, who was his son by Hagar, and circumcised in the thirteenth year of his age, because he was fo old at the time God enjoined his father this rite, the ground of their circumcising their children at the fame time of life, though Mr. Voltairet will have them also to have learned the ceremony from the Egyptians. It is true, the Arabians sometimes come under the name of Ethiopians with the antients, as Arabia is sometimes called Ethiopia by them. Even the Jewith historian himself, is supposed to use this stile sometimes: for he speaks of a war with the Ethiopians, in which Mofes commanded the Egyptian forces against them, and besieged Saba a capital city of Ethiopia. Now here the word, it is said, must have that meaning, Saba being | metropolis of Arabia. And upon this hypothesis, that the Arabs are called Ethiopians by the antients, there are many authorities for their having observed circumcision, as must have been remarked by every attentive reader of this section, and among others, the passage concerning the Troglodites, since they were a people of
+ Phil. Diction p. 130. Where is the improbability of the He. • brews having imitated the Egyptians in circumcision? It was no more • than their neighbours the Arabs had done.'
# Antiq. 2. 10. 2.
+ So Diodorus Siculus, who in his second book appropriates the Dame of Arabia to the country between Syria and Egypt, makes Sabas, or, as others read, Saba, the metropolis of the Arabians, lib. 3. fect. 47 Edit. Rhodom. p. 126. Wesseling. 215. Ty do Orxs T8TV μητροπολις εσιν ην καλεσι Σαβας επ' ορες ωκισμενη.
eaftern Ethiopia, or Ethiopia on the Arabic gulf. But still there is no shadow of testimony, that the Jews borrowed circumcifion from them, unless the meaning of our author be, that they learned it from the Egyptians, who had themselves been taught it by them, as indeed the Ethiopians must be supposed to have given out. And in this sense, it coincides with the affertion of their taking it from the Egyptians, which hath been already considered, and shewed to be ill-grounded; there being no proof it was known to them sooner than to Abraham and his pofterity.
We may then rest satisfied, that circumcifion was commanded to Abraham and his posterity, and in pursuance of the divine injunction practised by them, ere it was in use among the Egyptians and other nations; as indeed I believe this opinion will of its own accord arise in the mind of every unbiassed and unprejudiced person, who reads the relation of its appointment by God, and observance by them, which we have in the book of Genesis, instead of the conceit, that it was then common to others with them.
Should any now enquire, whence or when the Egyptians began to observe circumcifion, as a national, or at least as a facerdotal rite, since they were not in possession of it before the Abrahamic family? I reply, it is difficult to say. About this point, learned men have gone into very different sentiments, there being such a defectiveness of evidence for one ać. count of its entrance among them beyond another. For some have ascribed it to the influence of Abraham himself; fome to the credit and authority of Joseph, while in reward of his eminent service he had supreme rule over Egypt next to the king, together
with the example * of his father and brethren, who settled there during his administration of public affairs; some to the observation of the prodigious fruit
* To this opinion it hath been objected, that' It was an abomination to the Egyptians to eat bread with the Hebrews,' Gen. xliii. 22. and that all shepherds (such as they were) were an abomination to the • Egyptians,' Gen. xlvi. 34. How then can it be thought the Egyptians would copy the rite of circumcision from them in that age? But it may be answered, so were the Greeks an abomination to the Egyptiafis: for neither would they salute a Greek, nor use the knife, or spit, or kettle of a Greek, left they should be defiled by his embrace, after he had been partaker of food which they counted unlawful, of which sort were cows, and with many of them sheep, or by the touch of these utensils, after they had been employed about the fame prohibited victuals. See Herodotus, 2. cap. 41, 42. and Diod. Sicul. (Rhodom. 77.) Wesseling. 97. But will it follow therefore that the Egyptians dever borrowed
custom from the Greeks ?-Strabo gives the Jews a good character at their departure from Egypt, and settlement in Palestine, which, though it relate to them in a later period than Jofeph's government, I shall give at once here, for he says, 'That Moses, one of the • Egyptian priests, possessing a certain district of the country, departed
thence, having disliked the appointed rites, and many who honoured • the Deity went out with him, Tondo, TIMQYTES TO
συνεξ. . impar, for he taught them, &c.' as above quoted, p. 288.' And persuaded not a few well-minded persons to accompany him; that he founded
no contemptible kingdom in the country where Jerusalem now stands, * all around having eagerly joined him, as he promised to establish ' such a worship, and such a priesthood, as would not be uneasy by ex
pences or beogopices, proceffions with images of the gods, or other abfurd practices, and affared that those who lived soberly and righteouly ought to expect always some gift from God, but they of an
opposite character ought to look for no benefit.-—That they who • succeeded, continued some ages in the same sentiments, doing justly
and being truly pious, till first superstitious men, and afterwards ty• radnical men intruded into the priesthood, when from superftition
proceeded abstinences from meats, which the nation uses still, and circumcisions, and excisions, and fach customs, and from oppressions,
fulness and increase of the Israelites who used it, and the undeniable discoveries of divine favour toward them, at their removal thencc; and some to the friendfhipt that was established between the Jewish nation
• robberies : for they who revolted, harassed both that country and ' the neighbourhood, but they who took part with the rulers, plun. dered what belonged to others, and subdued a good part of Syria and • Phenicia. οι δε διαδεξαμενοι χρονες μεν τινας εν τοις αυτοις διε“ μεινον δικαιοπραγοντες και θεοσεβες ως αληθως οντες, &c. Thus Strabo, lib. 16. p. 761. edit. Almel. 1104. and what an honourable account is it of the Jews, in the beginning of their state ! Justin too Speaks well of them; for having said, “That after Arvas, Moses's son,
made king, the Jews had the same persons for priests and kings,' he adds, ' The justice of these priests and kings mixed with piety, ac• quired them an incredible power, ' Quorum juftitia religione per• mixta, incredibile quantum convaluere.' 36. 2. Were these Jews then such in earlier times, as to be thought unworthy of imitation in any of their customs ? — Besides do not we ourselves know a nation, which is ready to imitate the fashions of another nation, though to this nation, there is, on many accounts, a strong aversion and antipathy.
+ It is easy on this supposition to answer Dr. Middleton's query, with whatever air of triumph he has proposed it ; Letter to Dr. Waterland, ibid. pp. 30, 31. Which then is the more probable, that • a people great and powerful, famed every where abroad, and valuing • themselves highly at home for their wisdom and learning, should • borrow fo remarkable a custom from a nation they always hated and despised, or that the lawgiver of a petty infant state, should copy
well as many others of his constitutions, from the practice of a great and flourishing kingdom ?' for the Jews were not so abhorred and contemned by them in those days, as appears from the intercourse between the two kingdoms, mentioned in Scripture, 1 Kings, iii. 1. and X. 28, 29. 2 Kings, xvii. 4. xvii. 21. 24. Isaiah, xxx. xxxi. Ezek. xxix. 6, 7. Nor will Dr. Middleton's quotation from Josephus contra Apion, 1. 13. prove they were always hated and lighted by them against such proofs of the contrary; for Josephus never intended his words, which run thus, ‘All the Egyptians in common were especi