zim,* in opposition to that of Jerusalem.
Hence the hatred which subsisted ever after
between the two people until the time of our
Saviour. (John iv. 20, Luke ix. 53. 55.)
The translation of the bible into Greek;
which is known as the version of the LXX.
from the number of persons employed, was 186.
effected about this time by Ptolemy Philadel-
phus, king of Egypt.

The Jews were exposed to many cruel per- The Asmosecutions under Antiochus, unjustly sur- ces. named the illustrious. He plundered and profaned the temple of Jerusalem. He put a stop to divine service for three years and a half, and tried every means to oblige the Jews to renounce their religion. It was then that Mattathias, a priest, fled from Jerusalem with his five sons, (1 Macc. ii.) and with many who joined him, to defend their religion and their liberty. Judas Maccabeus, the son of Mattathias, defeated the army of the king of Syria, and re-established the divine worship. His successors called the Asmonean princes, from one of their ancestors

nean Prin

* It was blessed in former times, see Deut. xi. 29, before the building of the temple at Jerusalem.


B. C. 420.

[ocr errors]

187. of that name, governed the Jews for the

space of about 100 years, when the Romans
under Pompey, took advantage of a dessen-
tion between two nephews of king Aristobu-
lus, and possessed themselves of Judea.

Malachi, who prophesied whilst Nehemiah
was governor, was the last of the prophets
before the coming of our Saviour. This ad-
vent was ardently wished for, but as in the
mean time there was no prophet to enlighten
the Jews, they were divided into religious

sects, the principal of which were the Sad-
189. ducees and Pharisees. The former looked

upon the soul as material, and therefore
mortal, and disbelieved a future state. The
latter, although believing in a future state,
(Acts xxiij. 6,) blended so much of pride
and hypocrisy with that faith, that they were
very often reproached by our Lord as a race
of vipers; and the expression of making
broad their philacteries, alludes to the af-
fectation of piety which was meant to be be-
spoken by those pieces of parchment so
called, worn round the arm, inscribed with
passages from Scripture.*

* Talismans among the Mahomedans at this day consist of passages from the Koran, which are worn in the

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

We are not to infer from the existence of 190. these sects of opposite belief, that the Jews of old were not informed on the subject of a life to come. Though life and immortality and forgiveness of sins were brought to light by Jesus Christ, through his atonement and resurrection, we may believe that Moses, having found the general belief of a life to come established among the Jews, was not directed to make a distinct revelation on that subject. The translation of Enoch and Elijah to heaven must have given that people a clear idea of another life. Besides which, there are many passages in the Old Testament which make so direct an allusion to that subject, that no one can doubt, but that a very prevalent and general belief of it did exist amongst them. For example: see 2 Sam. xii. 23, Ps. xvii. 15, id. xxxvii. 27, Dan. xii. 2, Job xix. 25-27, Ps. cvii, cxxxix. 24, and particularly a saying of our Saviour, recorded in John v. 39, “Search the scriptures;" or rather, ye search the scriptures, "for in them ye think ye have eternal

same way, and have a magical property attached to them of protecting the wearer from danger.

life: and they are they which testify of


The Romans, after expelling the Asmonean princes, placed Herod, surnamed the Great, son of Antipater, an Idumean, on

the throne of Jerusalem. It was under 191. his reign that our Saviour came into the


We should not close this part of the subject without being reminded of what St. Paul says of the writings of the Old Testament, “ That they are only the shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of those things.” (Heb. x. 1.) “ But that they were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. xv. 4.) “ Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.” (John viii. 56.) This said Jesus to the Jews, in allusion to the foreknowledge which was afforded to the father of the faithful, “ of these good things to come.” Let us therefore always read the Scriptures in the



+ See Jebb, Discourse xiv. vol. i. p 286, for the reason why the indicative of the verb is to be used rather than the imperative.

3 २

view recommended by St. Paul, and we shall find that they will strengthen us in our faith “in those things, which in these last days were spoken to us by his Son” Jesus Christ. (Heb. i. 2.)

« ElőzőTovább »