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S E C TI O N I.
Of his saying in chapter thirty-fourth of the Philo
fophy of History, that the second temple is represented in the book of Efdras, to have had only three rows of rough stone.
SAYS Mr. Voltaire, in his Philosophy of History, chap. * thirty-fourth, We learn in the book of Ef
dras, that the walls of the second temple had only • three rows of rough stone, and that the rest was of wood only. It was rather a barn than a temple.'
Now such indeed was the order about building it in Cyrus's decree, according to the copy thereof, which was recovered upon search through the repositories at the royal palace, in the province of the Medes, as the Vulgate version relates it, Ezra, vi.
4. That there be three rows of unpolished stones.' And such also was the execution of the work by the Jews, according to the information, which it makes to have been sent to the Persian monarch Darius by Tatnai, and other enemies, when they folicited him to stop the progress of it, Ezra, v. 8.' Be it known ' to the king, that we went into the province of
Judea, to the house of the great God, which is • built with unpolished stone. But, mean as the fecond temple was in comparison of Solomon's, has the Vulgate version reason on its side here? By no means; In this representation, it differs from all interpreters. For the Septuagint have in the latter paffage, choicet ftones, and in the former, strong, that * Page 162. + Εκλεκτοις, κραταιους,
is, ponderous and massive stones. Bochart | turns the term, marble stones, adding that Jarchi, Kimchi, Aruch, Elias, and other Jewish Doctors, after the Talmudists, put the same meaning on the original.
The Syriac translation again, with the translations of Junius and Tremellius, of the Zurich divines, of Castalio, of Piscator, and of Munster, make it, very large or heavy stones, as ours hath, great stones; while * Jofephus, who does not transcribe the letter of the adversaries of his nation into his Antiquities, but only the imperial edict, calls them, well polished or well finoothed stones, and the author of the apocryphal book of+ Ezra says, “ The wall was of hewed stones,
of great coft or expence. The truth is, the Chaldee vocable here leads us to think of stones so vaft in size, and enormous in magnitude, that it behoved to roll rather than carry them, conformably to the acceptation of the same word in the Hebrew tongue. At the same time, if we have regard to the use of the root ghelal, which answers it in the Arabic language, we may suppose it denotes stones, excellent for their nature and kind, and not merely for their bulk or quantity, by Sconsequence, ftones of high price and value. Eftius therefore, a Romilh divine, as much interested as he was, for the honour of his church, to maintain the Vulgate version, renounces it
Hierozoicon, par. 2. lib. 6. cap. 16. * Antiq. 11. 4. 6. Eubeswr. + Cap. 6. 9. Aic n0wr GusWY TONUTE.wr.
$ To this purpose the learned Michaelis explains it in his notes ; while it is remarked in the margent of our Bibles, that the Chaldee
50 galelim, denotes stones of rolling,
here, and observes upon Ezra, v. 8.' That || the word ' in the original does not signify, unpolished, but
great either in dimension, or in cost.' And Houbigant, sa priest of the same communion, hesitates not to render it, huge stones. So much is Voltaire's ridicule here, of this temple’s being more like a barn from its rough stones, built upon the singularity of the Vulgate version, and a singularity without any good foundation; perhaps even owing to the mistake of a transcriber.
SECTION 11. Of his representing in chapter fortieth of the same,
and in other pieces, that Mofes commanded the Levites to kill twenty-three thousand, on occasion of the golden calf.
IN chapter fortieth, however, he hath committed a still worse fault. For he represents Moses to command the Levites, “to * massacre indiscriminately
their brothers, to the number of twenty-three thousand, to screen his own brother, who ought rather
to have died, than made a golden calf to be adored, ? And, strange to relate, his brother is after this shameful action created high-pontiff, and thirty
three thousand men are massacred.' And afterwards,
| Vid. Pol. Synopf. in loc.
ģVid. Houbigant in loc, who at the same time expresses his astopishment, that Le Clerc should make it, square stones, forasmuch as the verb which conveys the idea of turning over, would rather sụggelt a round, than any angular or cornered form. • Phil, of History, page 186, 187.
in the fnext chapter, when he gives a summary of the Jews exterminated by their own brothers, or by the order of God himself, he says, “ The Levites af? ter the adoration of the golden calf, cast in a mould
by Moses's brother, mafsacred twenty-three thou' fand Jews.' In his Philosophical Dictionary also, he introduces learned men making an objection to those, who hold Moses to have been the author of the Pentateuch, from this I story,“ These murmuring * Jews night have said to Moses—Instead of punishing your worthless brother for the golden calf, and setting it up for us to worship it, you make him our high-priest, and order your Levites to slay * twenty-three thousand of your people; Would our ' fathers have tamely suffered this?'
But what reason has he for affirming, that twentythree thousand were flain? For as to his making them thirty-three thousand in one clause of the paffage first quoted, I suppose this to be an accidental error of the pen or press, as it swells the number ten thousand beyond what it stands in his own account
+ Page 194.
I Page 293, Article, Mofes. • The same account he gives of their number too in his Treatise of Toleration, chap. 12. page 153. where he says, “Many deceived by • the goodness and humanity of their heart, cannot believe that Moses • Naughtered three and twenty thousand fouls, to expiate this crime, viz. of worshipping the calf. And what a pity Mr. Voltaire, by this, and many other instances of affectation to misrepresent and ridicule the sacred books, particularly those of the Old Testament, should have disparaged this work, which otherwise might have procured him lasting honour, as a noble dissuasive from religious persecution ! How hath he, by these sallies of profane wit, filled a great number with prejudices aganit the principle of forbearance he aims to inculcate, who but for them might have become profelytes to it!
of the order there, and of the execution in other places. There is truly no ground for calling them twenty-three thousand at all, but the Vulgate translation. For the Hebrew text represents only three thousand to have been killed, Exod. xxxü. 17. 'Mo
ses said unto the fons of Levi, thus sayeth the Lord « God of Israel, put every man his sword by his side,
and go in and out from gate to gate through the
camp, and slay every man his brother, and every ' man his companion, and every man his neighbour;
and the children of Levi did according to the word ' of Moses, and there fell of the people that day about
three thousand men.' And in this number of the llain, whom Le Clerc, and other commentators reckon to have been the advisers and leaders in that defection from the pure worship of Jehovah, by setting up the calf as his fymbol, the Samaritan copy, Chaldee, Greek, Syriac, Arabic, and all versions, do agree, except the Vulgate, or such as may have transcribed it. Philo moreover, who was contemporary with our Şaviour and his apostles, makes three thousand only to have lost their lives upon that offence; “ The Le• vites, says * he, receiving the charge most readily, ? because they were displeased almost from the mo
ment they knew the transgression was committed, ' kill in a hasty (or brisk and youthful) manner three
thousand of them, who were a little before most be' loved by them.' As to Jofephus, he makes no mention of the extent of the havock at all, having omitted the idolatry which gave rise to it, like some other instances of base and dishonourable behaviour, in the
• Vid. De Vita Molis, lib. 3. pag. 679. Par. Edit. 1640.-ray ρεσιν ήβηδον εις τρισχιλιες των προ μικρα φιλτατων. .