I. Materials with which the purifications of the Jews were performed.-II. Ceremonies of purification.-III. Of the persons lustrated.-IV. Account of the different kinds of legal impurities, particularly,-1. The leprosy of the person.-2. The leprosy of clothes.-3. The house leprosy.-V. Minor legal impurities, and their lustrations.

where the being wholly washed implies one who had become a disciple of Christ, and consequently had renounced the sins of his former life. He who had so done was supposed to be wholly washed, and not to need any immersion, in imitation of the ceremony of initiation, which was never repeated among the Jews. All that was necessary in such case was the dipping or rinsing of the hands and feet, agreeably to the customs of the Jews. Sometimes the lustration was performed by sprinkling blood, or anointing with oil. Sprinkling was performed either with the finger or with a branch of cedar and hyssop tied together with scarlet wool. (Lev. xiv. 4. 6. Num. xix. 18. Psal. li. 7.)

III. The objects of lustration were either persons or things

IT was requisite that every one who was about to make any offering to Jehovah should be cleansed from all impuri-dedicated to divine worship. The Levites, priests, and above ties, or lustrated-to adopt an expression in common use among the Romans. The materials, form, and ceremonies of these lustrations, which were prescribed by Moses, were various, according to different circumstances. The design of them all was not only to preserve both the health and morals of the Israelites, but also to intimate how necessary it was to preserve inward purity, without which they could not be acceptable to God, though they might approach his sanctuary.

I. The purifications were for the most part performed with water, sometimes with blood (Heb. ix. 21, 22.), and with oil. (Exod. xxx. 26-29. Lev. viii. 10, 11.) The water of purification was to be drawn from a spring or running stream, and was either pure, or mixed with blood (Heb. ix. 19.), or with the ashes of the red heifer. For preparing these ashes, a heifer of a red colour was burnt with great solemnity. This ceremony is described at length in the nineteenth chapter of the book of Numbers. As all the people were to be interested in it, the victim was to be provided at their charge. This Jewish rite certainly had a reference to things done under the Gospel, as St. Paul has remarked in his Epistle to the Hebrews-For if the blood of bulls and of goats (alluding to the sin-offerings, and to the scape-goat), and THE ASHES OF A HEIFER, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ.... purge (or purify) your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. As the principal stress of allusion in this passage is to the ordinance of the red heifer, we may certainly conclude that it was designed to typify the sacrifice of our adorable Redeemer.

all, the high-priest, underwent a purification previously to undertaking their respective offices. In like manner the Israelites were commanded to sanctify themselves by ablutions both of their persons and clothes, &c. previously to receiving the law (Exod. xix. 10, 11. 14, 15. Heb. ix. 19.); and after the giving of the law and the people's assent to the book of the covenant, Moses sprinkled them with blood. (Exod. xxiv. 5-8. Heb. ix. 19.) So also were the tabernacle, and all its sacred vessels anointed with oil (Exod. xxx. 26-28. xl. 9-11. Lev. viii. 10, 11.), and as Saint Paul further intimates, were sprinkled with the blood of the victims.

Those who were about to offer sacrifice unto Jehovah were also to be lustrated (1 Sam. xvi. 5.); as well as those who were repairing to divine worship to offer their prayers (Judith xii. 7,8.); and especially the priest and the high-priest, before they executed their respective offices. (Exod. xxx. 20.) Lastly, all who according to the Mosaic law were adjudged impure, were to be purified before they could be admitted into the congregation of the Lord. (Num. xix. 20.)

IV. In the Mosaic law, those persons are termed unclean, whom others were obliged to avoid touching, or even meeting, unless they chose to be themselves defiled, that is, cut off from all intercourse with their brethren; and who, besides, were bound to abstain from frequenting the place where divine service and the offering-feasts were held, under penalties still more severe.

The duration and degrees of impurity were different. In some instances, by the use of certain ceremonies, an unclean person became purified at sunset; in others, this did not take place until eight days after the physical cause of defilement In the ordinance of the red heifer, we may perceive the ceased. Lepers were obliged to live in a detached situation, wisdom of Moses (uuder the guidance of Jehovah) in taking separate from other people, and to keep themselves actually every precaution that could prevent the Israelites from falling at a distance from them. They were distinguished by a peinto idolatry. The animal to be selected was a heifer, in op- culiar dress; and if any person approached, they were bound position to the superstition of the Egyptians, who held this to give him warning, by crying out, Unclean! unclean! animal to be sacred, and worshipped Isis under the form of a Other polluted persons, again, could not directly touch those heifer:-it was also to be a red heifer, without spot, that is, that were clean, without defiling them in like manner, and altogether red, because red bulls were sacrificed to appease were obliged to remain without the camp, that they might not the evil demon Typhon, that was worshipped by the Egyp-be in their way. (Num. v. 1-4.) Eleven different species tians; wherein was no blemish, so that it was free from every imperfection;-on which never came yoke, because any animal that had been used for any common purpose was deemed improper to be offered in sacrifice to God.2

The animal being slain, and her blood sprinkled as directed in Num, xix. 3, 4., was then reduced to ashes, which were to be collected and mixed with running water (ver. 9. 17.), for the purpose of lustration.

II. The Jews had two sorts of washing; one, of the whole body by immersion, which was used by the priests at their consecration, and by the proselytes at their initiation; -the other, of the hands or feet, called dipping, or pouring of water, and which was of daily use, not only for the hands and feet, but also for the cups and other vessels used at their meals. (Matt. xv. 2. Mark vii. 3, 4.) The six water-pots of stone, used at the marriage-feast of Cana, in Galilee (John ii. 6.), were set for this purpose. To these two modes of purification Jesus Christ seems to allude in John xiii. 10.; 1 Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. iii. c. 8. § 6. This opinion obtained among the ancient Greeks. See particularly Homer's Iliad, x. 291-293. and Odyssey, iii. 382., and Virgil's Georgics, iv.

550, 551. Dr. A. Clarke on Num. xix. 2.

While Mr. W. Rae Wilson (who visited Palestine in 1819) was at Cana, "six women having their faces veiled came down to the well, each carrying on her head a pot for the purpose of being filled with water. These vessels were formed of stone, and something in the shape of the bottles used in our country for containing vitriol, having great bodies and small necks, with this exception, they were not so large; many had handles attached to the sides; and it was a wonderful coincidence with Scripture, that the vessels appeared to contain much the same quantity as those, which the Evangelist informs [us] had been employed on occasion of the nuptial celebration," viz. "three firkins," that is, about twelve gallons each. Wilson's Travels in Egypt and the Holy Land, p. 339. first edition.)

of impurity are enumerated in the Levitical law, to which the later Jews added many others. But the severest of all was,

1. The Leprosy, an infectious disease of slow and imperceptible progress, beginning very insidiously and gently, for the most part with one little bright spot, which causes no trouble, though no means will make it disappear: but increasing with time into furfuraceous scales that ultimately become a thick scab, it imperceptibly passes into a disease, which, though divested of its deadly nature in our temperate climates and by our superior cleanliness, is in the East attended with the most formidable symptoms: such as mortification and separation of whole limbs, and when arrived at a certain stage, it is altogether incurable. As the varieties and symptoms of this frightful malady are discussed at length in a subsequent part of this work, it will be sufficient to remark, for the present, that, among the heathens, the leprosy was considered as inflicted by their gods, by whom alone it could be removed, and the same notion appears to have prevailed among the Israelites; for when the king of Syria sent Naaman, his commander-in-chief, to the king of Israel, to heal him of his leprosy, the latter exclaimed, Am I GOD, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto ME, to recover a man of his leprosy? (2 Kings v. 7.) Some instances are also recorded in which this disease is represented as a punish ment immediately inflicted by God for particular sins; as in the cases of Miriam, Gehazi, and king Uzziah. This circumstance, connected with the extreme foulness of the disorder, rendered it a very striking emblem of moral pollution; and the exclusion of persons infected with it from the worship and people of God was fitted not only to humble and reform the

offenders, but also to impress upon the mind the most solemn the thirteenth day he revisited it; and if he found the infected and useful instructions.

The person who had been healed of leprosy was minutely examined by the priest, who proceeded to perform the rites and sacrifices of purification, which are minutely described in Lev. xiv., in order that the patient might be readmitted into society and to the privileges of the Jewish church. Among these sacrifices and ceremonies, the following is very remarkable:"The priest was required to take two small birds, and to kill one of them over an earthen vessel filled with river water, so that the blood might be mixed with the water. He was then to dip the other or living bird into the water, and sprinkle the leper with it seven times with a stick of cedar wood, upon which a bunch of hyssop was tied with a scarlet thread; after which the priest was to pronounce him purified, and let loose the living bird into the open air. (Lev. xiv. 2-7.) This ceremony seems to be typical of the purification of our sins by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ (Isa. lii. 15. 1 Pet. i. 2.), which flowed out of his wounded side mixed with water (John xix. 34.); while the dismissal of the living bird resembles that of the scape-goat into the wilderness, with the sins of the leper upon him. Our Lord expressly commanded the lepers, whom he healed, to conform to the law." (Matt. viii. 4. Mark i. 44. Luke v. 14. xvii. 14.)1

Besides the leprosy of the person, Moses mentions two other species of leprosy, viz. of clothes and of houses, which are in a great measure unknown in Europe.

2. The Leprosy of Clothes is described in Lev. xiii. 47-59. as consisting of green or reddish spots, which remain in spite of washing and continue to spread; so that the cloth becomes bald or bare, sometimes on one side, and sometimes on the other. From the information which Michaelis received from a woollen manufacturer, he supposes this disease to arise in woollen cloth, from the use of the wool of sheep that have died of disease; which when worn next the skin (as in the East) is very apt to produce vermin. With respect to leather and linen, he could obtain no information.

Clothes suspected to be thus tainted were to be inspected by the priest; if they were found to be corroded by the leprosy, they were to be burnt; but if, after being washed, the plague was found to have departed from them, they were to be pronounced clean.

3. The House Leprosy is said in Lev. xiv. 33-37. to consist of greenish or reddish spots or dimples, that appear on the walls, and continually spread wider and wider. Michaelis considers it to be the same as the saltpetre, which sometimes attacks and corrodes houses that stand in damp situations. Although in Europe unattended with any injury to health, in Palestine it might be hurtful; so that the Mosaic regulations in this respect are both wise and provident.

When a house was suspected to be thus tainted, the priest was to examine it, and ordered it to be shut up seven days. If he found that the plague or signs of the plague had not spread, he commanded it to be shut up seven days more.

1 Dr. Hales's Analysis of Chronology, vol. ii. book i. p. 273.


place dim, or gone away, he took out that part of the wall, carried it out to an unclean place, mended the wall, and caused the whole house to be newly plastered. It was then shut up a third seven days: he once more inspected it on the nineteenth day; and if he found that the plague had broken out anew, he ordered the house to be pulled down. If on the other hand it was pronounced to be clean, an offering was made on the occasion; in order that every one might certainly know that it was not infected, and the public might be freed from all apprehensions on that account.

V. Various other legal impurities are enumerated in Lev. xii. 1-8. and xv. which it is not necessary to detail. To which we may add, that all human corpses and the carcasses of beasts that died in any other way than by the knife, were regarded as unclean. Whoever touched the former, or went into the tent or apartment (after the Israelites had houses) where a corpse lay, was unclean for seven days; and whoever touched a dead body, or even a human bone, or a grave in the fields, was unclean for the same period. The body of a clean beast that fell not by the knife, but died in any other way, defiled the person who touched it, until the evening (Lev. xi. 39.); and the carcasses of unclean beasts, by whatever means they died, did the same. (Lev. v. 2. xí. 8. 11. 24, 25. 27, 28. 31. Deut. xiv. 8.) The consequence of this law was, that the carcasses of beasts were not suffered to remain above ground, but were put into the earth, that passengers might not be in danger of pollution from them. By these wise enactments, the spreading of contagious diseases would be effectually prevented, which in hot climates are peculiarly rapid and fatal. For the same reason, also, Michaelis is of opinion, that Moses commanded the Israelites to break earthen vessels, which were liable to be defiled by being left uncovered in a tent or apartment where a person died, or a corpse lay (Num. xix. 15.), or by an unclean beast falling into them (Lev. xi. 33.), or by the touch of a diseased person. (Lev. xv. 12.)2

Such are the Mosaic statutes concerning purifications and impurities. Profane scoffers, who deride those things, the reason and propriety of which they will not take the trouble to investigate, have ridiculed them as too minute,-especially those respecting the different species of leprosy, and as unworthy to be made part of a divine law. But every well regulated mind surely must discern in them both the goodness and wisdom of Jehovah towards his chosen people, in giving them precepts which were calculated not only to preserve their health and regulate their morals, but also to accustom them to obedience to his will in every respect. The leprosy has ever been considered as a lively emblem of that moral taint or "corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam;" as the sacrifices, which were to be offered by the healed leper, prefigured that spotless Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.

2 Schulzii Archæologia Hebraica, pp. 303-310. Michaelis's Commentaries, vol. iii. pp. 254-335, 3 Article ix. of the Confession of the Anglican Church.





I. Origin and Progress of idolatry.-Sketch of its History among the Israelites and Jews.-II. Idols worshipped by the Israelites alone.-III. Idols of the Ammonites, worshipped by the Israelites.-IV. Idols of the Canaanites or Syrians. V. Phænician Idols.-VI. Babylonian and Assyrian Idols.-VII. Idols worshipped in Samaria during the Captivity.Hieroglyphic Stones, why prohibited to the Jews.-VIII. Idols of the Greeks and Romans mentioned in the New Testament. -IX. Allusions in the Scriptures to the idolatrous Worship of the Heathen Nations.-X. Different Kinds of Divination. I. IDOLATRY is the superstitious worship of idols or false gods. From Gen. vi. 5. compared with Rom. i. 23. there is every reason to believe that it was practised before the flood; and this conjecture is confirmed by the apostle Jude (ver. 4.), who, describing the character of certain men in his days that denied the only Lord God, adds in the eleventh verse of his epistle, Wo unto them, for they are gone into the way of Cain; whence it may be inferred that Cain and his descendants were the first who threw off the sense of a God, and worshipped the creature instead of the Creator.1

The heavenly bodies were the first objects of idolatrous worship; and Mesopotamia and Chaldæa were the countries where it chiefly prevailed after the deluge.2 Before Jehovah vouchsafed to reveal himself to them, both Terah and his son Abraham were idolaters (Josh. xxiv. 2.); as also was Laban, the father-in-law of Jacob (Gen. xxxi. 19. 30.); though he appears to have had some idea of the true God, from his mentioning the name of Jehovah on several occasions. (Gen. xxiv. 31. 50, 51.) Previously to Jacob and his sons going into Egypt, idolatry prevailed in Canaan; and while their posterity were resident in that country, it appears from Josh. xxiv. 14. and Ezek. xx. 7, 8. that they worshipped the deities of Egypt.

On the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, although Moses by the command and instruction of Jehovah had given them such a religion as no other nation possessed, and notwithstanding all his laws were directed to preserve them from idolatry; yet, so wayward were the Israelites, that almost immediately after their deliverance from bondage we find them worshipping idols. (Exod. xxxii. 1. Psal. cvi. 19, 20. Acts vii. 41-43.5 Soon after their entrance into the land of Canaan, they adopted various deities that were worshipped by the Canaanites, and other neighbouring nations (Judg. ii. 13. viii. 33.); for which base ingratitude they were severely punished. Shortly after the death of Joshua, the government became so unsettled, that every man did that which seemed right in his own eyes. The prophet Azariah describes the infelicity of these times, when he says, They were without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without the law (2 Chron. xv. 3.); and as anarchy prevailed, so did idolatry, which first crept into the tribe of Ephraim in the house of Micah, and then soon spread itself amongst the Danites. (Judg. xvii. xviii.) Nor were the other tribes free from this infection, during this dissolution of the government; for it is said, They forsook the Lord and served Baal and Ashtaroth, and followed the other gods of the people round about them. (Judg. ii. 13. 12.)

Under the government of Samuel, Saul, and David, the worship of God seems to have been purer than in former times. Solomon is the first king, who, out of complaisance to the strange women he had married, caused temples to be erected in honour of their gods; and so far impiously complied with them himself, as to offer incense to these false deities (1 Kings xi. 5-8.); so fatal an evil is lust to the best understandings, which besots every one it overcomes, and reigns over them with uncontrolled power Solomon, it is true, did not arrive at that pitch of audacity which some of his successors afterwards did; but his giving the smallest countenance to the breach of the divine law, among a people so prone to idolatry, could not but be attended with the worst consequences; and accordingly, upon his death, the glory of his kingdom was speedily eclipsed by the revolt of the ten tribes and the The history of the origin and progress of idolatry are ably traced in Dr. Graves's Lectures on the Pentateuch, vol. i. pp. 183-190.

On the subject of Zabianism, or the idolatrous worship of the stars, there is an interesting dissertation in Dr. Townley's Translation of Mai

monides's Reasons Laws of Mose pp.

| division of his kingdom. This civil defection was attended with a spiritual one, for Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who succeeded him in the government of the ten tribes which had revolted (and who himself had probably been initiated in the idolatrous worship of the neighbouring nations, when he took refuge from Solomon's jealousy at the court of Shishak), soon introduced the worship of two golden calves, the one at Dan and the other at Bethel. He made choice of Bethel, because it had long been esteemed as a place sacred for the real appearance of God in ancient times to Jacob, and might, therefore, induce the people to a more ready belief of the residence of the same Deity now; and Dan (as already observed) being at the extremity of the kingdom, was the place whither that part of the country resorted on account of Micah's teraphim. Idolatry being thus established in Israel by public authority, and countenanced by all their princes, was universally adopted by the people, notwithstanding all the remonstrances against it by the prophets whom God sent to reclaim them from time to time, and who stood as a barrier against this growing wickedness, regardless of all the persecutions of impious Jezebel, who did what she could utterly to extinguish the worship of the true God. At length this brought a flood of calamities upon that kingdom, and was the source of all the evils with which that people were afterwards afflicted; so that, after a continual scene of tragical deaths, civil wars, and judgments of various kinds, they were at length carried away captive by Shalmaneser into Assyria.

The people of Judah were little better. One might justly have expected, that, if there had been no other reason than state policy for preserving the true religion in its native purity, that alone would have been sufficient to prevent any other false worship from being set up, and that the same motives, which induced the ten tribes to establish a strange worship, would have induced Judah to be jealous for the true one. But the event proved otherwise; for notwithstanding the great strength added to the kingdom of Judah, by those who resorted thither out of other tribes for the sake of religion, prosperity inflated Rehoboam and soon ruined him. It is said that he continued but three years walking in the ways of David and Solomon. (2 Chron. xi. 17.) After which these idolatrous inclinations began to appear, which probably were instilled into him by his mother Naamah, who was an Ammonitess. (1 Kings xiv. 21.) In short, he forsook the law of the Lord, and all Israet with him (2 Chron. xii. 1.), and fell into the grossest idolatry above all that their fathers had done. (1 Kings xiv. 22.) But God soon corrected him and his people, having delivered them into the hands of Shishak king of Egypt, who with a vast army entered the country, took their cities, and plundered Jerusalem and the temple of all the riches which David and Solomon had treasured up there. (2 Chron. xii. 2.) Upon their repentance and humiliation, the anger of Jehovah was soon mitigated; and we do not find that the kingdom of Judah fell into any gross acts of idolatry till the reign of Ahaz, who was the most impious prince that ever sat upon that throne. He was not content with walking in the ways of the kings of Israel, and making molten images of Baalim (2 Chron. xxviii. 2.), but he carried his wicked inclinations still farther, and imitated the old inhabitants of the land in their cruel and idolatrous practices; for it is said of him that he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire (ver. 3.); or, as we read in 2 Kings xvi. 3., He made his son to pass through the fire, which doubtless was the Lev. xviii. 21. For these impieties Ahaz was justly punished passing through the fire to Moloch, so expressly prohibited in by God, and after a constant course of all manner of wicked

ness, died in the flower of his age; but was happily succeeded | had said, "God is every where in his essence, and cannot be by his son Hezekiah, who, among other reformations, it is said, broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made, to which the children of Israel did burn incense. (2 Kings xviii. 4.) But Hezekiah's reformation was soon overturned upon the succession of his wicked son Manasseh, who seems to have made it his business to search out what God in his law had forbidden, and to make the practice of it his study. (2 Chron.calves was not regarded by the sacred writers and by the proxxxiii. 3-8.)

The princes who succeeded (Josiah only excepted) and their people seem to have lived in a kind of competition with one another in wickedness and idolatry, and to have given a loose to the wildness of their imaginations in the worship of God, which brought upon Judah and her people the utmost fury of God's wrath, and those judgments which had been decreed, and which ended in the captivity of king and people. At length, however, become wiser by the severe discipline they had received, the tribes that returned into their native country from the Babylonian captivity wholly renounced idolatry; and thenceforth uniformly evinced the most deeplyrooted aversion from all strange deities and foreign modes of worship. This great reformation was accomplished by Ezra and Nehemiah, and the eminent men who accompanied or succeeded them: but, in the progress of time, though the exterior of piety was maintained, the "power of godliness" was lost; and we learn from the New Testament, that, during our Saviour's ministry, the Jews were divided into various religious parties, which widely differed in opinion, and pursued each other with the fiercest animosity, and with implacable hatred.

Very numerous are the idols mentioned in the Scriptures, particularly in the Old Testament. It is proposed in the following pages of this section to offer, in the first place, a short notice of the idols which were peculiar to the Israelites; and, secondly, of those which they adopted from the Ammonites, Syrians, Phoenicians, Babylonians, and other nations of antiquity.2

II. IDOLS WORSHIPPED PARTICULARLY BY THE ISRAELITES.Scarcely, as we have already observed, had the children of Israel been delivered from their cruel bondage in Egypt, when they returned to those idols to which they had been accustomed.

1. The first object of their idolatrous worship was a GOLDEN CALF. (Exod. xxxii. 1-6.) Having been conducted through the wilderness by a pillar of cloud and fire, which preceded them in their marches, while that cloud covered the mountain where Moses was receiving the divine commands, they imagined that it would no longer be their guide; and therefore they applied to Aaron to make for them a sacred sign or symbol, as other nations had, which might visibly represent God to them. With this request Aaron unhappily complied: the people offered burnt-offerings, and brought peace-offerings, and sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. The materials of this idol were the golden ear-rings of the people, worn in these eastern countries by men as well as women; and probably they were some of the jewels which they had demanded of the Egyptians. They were cast in a mould by Aaron, and subsequently chiselled into a calf, which is generally supposed to have been an exact resemblance of the celebrated Egyptian deity, Apis, who was worshipped under the form of an ox. This ancient Egyptian superstition is still perpetuated on Mount Libanus, by those Druses who assume the name of Okkals, and who pay divine honours to a calf.3 2. In imitation of this were the two GOLDEN CALVES, made by Jeroboam, the first king of Israel, after the secession of the ten tribes. The Egyptians had two oxen, one of which they worshipped under the name of Apis, at Memphis, the capital of Upper Egypt, and the other under the name of Mnevís, at Hierapolis, the metropolis of Lower Egypt. In like manner, Jeroboam set up one of his calves at Bethel, and the other at Dan. (1 Kings xii. 28-32.) Like the idolaters in the wilderness, this leader of the rebels proclaimed before the idols upon the feast of their consecration, These are thy gods, 0 Israel, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt! as if he 1 Home's Ilist. of the Jews, vol. ii. pp. 282-291.

The following account of the idols worshipped by the Jews is abridged Apparatus 176-188. Calmet's Dissertations in his Commentaire Littéral, tom. i. part ii. pp. 173–178. and tom. vi. pp. 745-752. and his Dictionary of the Bible under the several names of the idol deities. Lewis's Origines Hebrææ, vol. iii. pp. 1-102. Jahn's Archæologia Biblica, §§ 400-415. Ackermann's Archæologia Biblica, §§ 387-402. Millar's Ilist. of the Propagation of Christianity, vol. i. pp. 227-340. Godwin's Moses and Aaron, book iv. pp. 140-178. and Alber, Inst. Herm. Vet. Test. tom. i. pp. 394-406.

3 Dr. Clarke's Travels, vol. iv. p. 204.

included in any place: he dwells among you here as well as at Jerusalem, and if you require any symbols of his presence, behold here they are in these calves which I have set up;" for they could not be so stupid as to believe, that the idols taken just before out of the furnace had been their deliverers, so many ages before. It is evident, that the worship of these phets, as an absolute Pagan idolatry, but only as a schism, which was indeed very criminal in itself, but did not come up to the degree of a total apostasy; for the history of the revolt of the ten tribes introduces Jeroboam speaking not like a person whose intention was to make the people change their religion, but as representing to them that the true God, being every where, was not confined to any certain place, and, therefore, they might pay their devotions to him as well in Dan and Bethel as at Jerusalem.

The worship offered before these images is supposed to have been in imitation of the ceremonies of the Mosaic law. As most of the priests of the family of Aaron, and the Levites who had their cities and abodes among the ten revolted tribes, retired into the dominions of the king of Judah, to avoid joining in the schism, which proved a great additional strength to the house of David; Jeroboam seized their cities and estates, and he eased the people of paying their tithes, there being none to demand them; so he gratified them by making priests out of every tribe and family, even in the extreme part of the country. The pontificate and supremacy over this schismatical priesthood he reserved in his own hands. These idols were at length destroyed by the kings of Assyria; the calf in Bethel was carried to Babylon, with other spoils, by Shalmaneser, and the other in Dan was seized by Tiglath-Pileser, about ten years before, in the invasion which he made upon Galilee, in which province the city stood.

3. The BRAZEN SERPENT was an image of polished brass, in the form of one of those fiery serpents (or serpents whose bite was attended with violent inflammation) which were sent to chastise the murmuring Israelites in the wilderness. By divine command Moses made a serpent of brass, or copper, and put it upon a pole; and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. (Num. xxi. 6-9.) This brazen serpent was preserved as a monument of the divine mercy, but in process of time became an instrument of idolatry. When this superstition began, it is difficult to determine; but the best account is given by the Jewish rabbi, David Kimchi, in the following manner. From the time that the kings of Israel did evil, and the children of Israel followed idolatry, till the reign of Hezekiah, they offered incense to it; for, it being written in the law of Moses, whoever looketh upon it shall live, they fancied they might obtain blessings by its mediation, and, therefore, thought it worthy to be worshipped. It had been kept from the days of Moses, in memory of a miracle, in the same manner as the pot of manna was and Asa and Jehoshaphat did not extirpate it when they rooted out idolatry, because in their reign they did not observe that the people worshipped this serpent, or burnt incense to it; and, therefore, they left it as a memorial. But Hezekiah thought fit to take it quite away, when he abolished other idolatry, because in the time of his father they adored it as an idol; and though pious people among them accounted it only as a memorial of a wonderful work, yet he judged it better to abolish it, though the memory of the miracle should happen to be lost, than suffer it to remain, and leave the Israelites in danger of committing idolatry hereafter with it.

On the subject of the serpent-bitten Israelites being healed by looking at the brazen serpent, there is a good comment in the book of Wisdom, chap. xvi. ver. 4-12. in which are these remarkable words :-"They were admonished, having a sign of salvation (i. e. the brazen serpent) to put them in remembrance of the commandments of thy law. For he that turned himself towards it, was not saved by the THING that he saw, but by THEE that art the saviour of all." (ver. 6, 7.) To the circumstance of looking at the brazen serpent in Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the order to be healed, our Lord refers (John iii. 14, 15.), As Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have eternal life: from which words we may learn, 1. That as the serpent was lifted up on the pole or ensign; so Jesus Christ was lifted up on the cross. 2. That as the Israelites were to look at the brazen serpent; so sinners must look to Christ for salvation. 3. That as God pro

vided no other remedy than this looking, for the wounded Israelites; so he has provided no other way of salvation than faith in the blood of his Son. 4. That as he who looked at the brazen serpent was cured and did live; so he that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall not perish, but have eternal life. 5. That as neither the serpent, nor looking at it, but the invisible power of God, healed the people; so neither the cross of Christ, nor his merely being crucified, but the pardon he has bought by his blood, communicated by the powerful energy of his Spirit, saves the souls of men. May not all these things be plainly seen in the circumstances of this transaction, without making the serpent a type of Jesus Christ (the most exceptionable that could possibly be chosen), and running the parallel, as some have done, through ten or a dozen of particulars ?!

4. In Judg. viii. 24-27. we read that Gideon made an EPHOD of gold from the spoils of the Midianites. This ephod is supposed to have been a rich sacerdotal garment, made in imitation of that worn by the high-priest at Shiloh. But whether Gideon meant it as a commemorative trophy, or had a Levitical priest in his house, it is difficult to determine. It became, however, a snare to all Israel, who dwelt in Gilead, and on the eastern side of Jordan; who thus having an ephod and worship in their own country, would not so readily go over to the tabernacle at Shiloh, and, consequently, fell into idolatry, and worshipped the idols of their neighbours the Phoenicians. (Judg. viii. 27. 33.)

5. The TERAPHIM, it appears from 1 Sam. xix. 13., were carved images in a human form, and household deities, like the penates and lares of the Romans many centuries afterwards (Gen. xxxi. 19. 31, 35. 1 Sam. xix. 13-17.), of which oracular inquiries were made. (Judg. xvii. 5. xviii. 5, 6. 14 -20. Zech. x. 2. Hos. iii. 4.) This is confirmed by 1 Sam. xv. 23. (marginal rendering), where the worship of teraphim is mentioned in conjunction with divination. They appear to have been introduced among the Israelites from Mesopotamia; and continued to be worshipped until the Babylonish captivity.

6. The Jews were accused by the pagans of worshipping the HEAD OF AN Ass; but from this calumny they have been completely vindicated by M. Schumacher.2 Apion, the grammarian, seems to be the author of this slander. He affirmed that the Jews kept the head of an ass in the sanctuary; that it was discovered there when Antiochus Epiphanes took the temple and entered into the most holy place. He aded, that one Zabidus, having secretly got into the temple, carried off the ass's head, and conveyed it to Dora. Suidas says, that Damocritus or Democritus the historian averred that the Jews adored the head of an ass, made of gold, &c. Plutarch and Tacitus were imposed on by this calumny. They believed that the Hebrews adored an ass, out of gratitude for the discovery of a fountain by one of these creatures in the wilderness, at a time when the army of this nation was parched with thirst and extremely fatigued. Learned men who have endeavoured to search into the origin of this slander are divided in their opinions. The reason which Plutarch and Tacitus gave for it has nothing in the history of the Jews on which to ground it. Tanaquil Faber has attempted to prove that this accusation proceeded from the temple in Egypt called Onion; as if this name came from onos, an ass; which is, indeed, very credible. The report of the Jews worshipping an ass might originate in Egypt. We know that the Alexandrians hated the Jews, and were much addicted to raillery and defamation. But it was extremely easy for them to have known that the temple Onion, at Heliopolis, was named from Onias, the high-priest of the Jews, who built it in the reign of Ptolemy Philometer and Cleopatra. Others have asserted that the mistake of the heathen proceeded from an ambiguous mode of reading; as if the Greeks, meaning to say that the Hebrews adored heaven, cupavcv, might in abbreviation write ouver; whence the enemies of the Jews concluded that they worshipped oves, an ass. Or, perhaps, reading in Latin authors that they worshipped heaven, cœlum.

'Nil præter nubes et cœli numen adorant,'

instead of cœlum, they read cillum, an ass, and so reported that the Jews adored this animal. Bochart is of opinion that the error arose from an expression in Scripture, the

Dr. A. Clarke on Num. xxi. 9. See also a pleasing and instructive con

templation of Bishop Hall on this subject.

2 De Cultu Animalium inter Egyptios et Judæos Commentatio, ex recondita antiquitate illustrata a M. Johann. Heinr. Schumacher. sect. viii. et seq. (Brunsvigiis, 1773. 4to.)

3 In Damocrito et in Juda.

[merged small][ocr errors]

mouth of the Lord hath spoken it;' in the Hebrew, Pi-Jeho vah, or Pi-Jeo. Now, in the Egyptian language, pico signifies an ass; the Alexandrian Egyptians hearing the Jews often pronounce this word pico, believed that they appealed to their God, and thence inferred that they adored an ass. These explications are ingenious, but not solid. It is doubtful whether any one can assign the true reason for the calumny; which might have arisen from a joke, or an accident. M. Le Moine seems to have succeeded best, who says that in all probability the golden urn containing the manna which was preserved in the sanctuary was taken for the head of an ass; and that the omer of manna might have been confounded with the Hebrew hamor, which signifies an ass.”4


MOLOCH, also called Molech, Milcom, or Melcom, was the principal idol of the Ammonites (1 Kings xi. 7.), yet not so appropriated to them, but that it was adopted by other neighbouring nations for their god. Some writers have supposed that Moloch was the same as Saturn, to whom it is well known that human victims were offered. But he rather appears to have been Baal or the Sun (Jer. xxxii. 35.), and was the Adrammelech and Anammelech of the Sepharvaites, who burnt their children to them in the fire. There is great reason to think that the Hebrews were addicted to the worship of this deity before their departure from Egypt, since both the prophet Amos (v. 26.) and the protomartyr Stephen (Acts vii. 43.) reproach them with having carried the tabernacle of their god Moloch with them in the wilderness. Solomon built a temple to Moloch on the Mount of Olives (1 Kings xi. 7.), and his impiety was followed by other kings, his successors, who had apostatized from the worship of Jehovah. The valley of Tophet and Hinnom, on the east of Jerusalem, was the principal scene of the horrid rites performed in honour of Moloch (Jer. xix. 5, 6.), who it is probable was the same as the Baal, Bel, or Belus of the Carthaginians, Sidonians, Babylonians, and Assyrians.


1. Mr. Selden, in his elaborate treatise on the Syrian gods,s mentions a goddess, whom he terms GOOD FORTUNE, as the first idol mentioned in the Scriptures, and worshipped by the Hebrews. This opinion is founded on the exclamation of Leah (Gen. xxx. 11.), when her handmaid Zilpah bore a son to Jacob. She said, I am prosperous (or as some in the present day, who ascribe every thing to chance, would sayGood luck to me); and she called his name Gad, that is, prosperity. Although this interpretation has been questioned, yet in Isa. lxv. 11. Gad is unquestionably joined with Meni (or the Moon), and both are names of idols, where the prophet says —

[blocks in formation]

impossible exactly to ascertain: it is probable that the latter What these objects of idolatrous worship were, it is now was an Egyptian deity. Jerome, as cited by bishop Lowth, gives an account of the idolatrous practice of the apostate Jews, which is alluded to by the prophet of making a feast, tended deities. "It is," he says, "an ancient idolatrous cusor a lectisternium, as the Romans called it, for these pretom in every city in Egypt, and especially in Alexandria, that on the last day of the last month in the year they set out a table with various kinds of dishes, and with a cup filled with a mixture of water, wine, and honey, indicating the fertility of the past or future year. This also the Israelites did."6"

which the sun was worshipped: it is mentioned in Isa. lxvi 2. AHAD or ACHAD is the name of a Syrian deity, under 17. where the rites of this god are described :

They who sanctify themselves, and purify themselves
In the gardens, after the rites of Achad;
In the midst of those who eat swine's flesh,
And the abomination, and the field mouse;
Together shall they perish, saith JEHOVAH.

Bp. Lowth's Version. Moabites and Midianites, supposed to be the same as the 3. BAAL-PEOR (Num. xxv. 1-5.) was a deity of the Priapus of the Romans, and worshipped with similar ob

Dr. Harris's Nat. Hist, of the Bible, pp. 24, 25. (American edit.) or pp. 22, 23. of the London reprint.

De Diis Syris, Syntag. i. c. 1. (Works, vol. ii pp. 255, 256) 6 Bp. Lowth's Isaiah, vol. ii. p. 375.

« ElőzőTovább »