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remiah would use that favour which he had with Nebuchadnezzar, to any other purpose, rather than for the Preservation of the Book of the Law ? This use
Josephus made of his Interest with Titus, to preserveren the Holy Scriptures. And the Jews fay, that both the Tabernacle and the Ark were secured by Jeremiah, in the burning of the Temple, at the time of their , Captivity, and consequently the Law was preservd, which was kept in the side of the Ark; but it is much more probable that the Book of their Law was fecur’d, than the Ark it felf, that being both more easily convey'd away, and not so tempting a Prey to the Enemy. We find the Law cited in the time of the Captivity, by Daniel, Dan. ix. II. by Nehemiah, Nehem. i. 8, 9. and in Tobit
, who belongd to the Ten Tribes, Tob. vi. 12. and vii. 13.
And it is not to be doubted, but that these and other pious Men had copies of it by them, and were very careful to preserve them. Maimonides v says, that Moses himself wrote out Twelve Books of the Law, one for each Tribe, besides that which was laid up in the side of the Ark; and the Rabbins teach, that every one is obliged to have a copy of the Pentateuch by him : And Ezra and Nehemiah w are said to have brought Three hundred Books of the Law into the Congregation assembled at their Return from Captivity. It is certain, there were Scribes of the Law, before the Captivity, and in the time of it, Fer. viii. 8. Ezra is stiled a ready Scribe in the Law of Moses; and the Scribe, even a Scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Ifrael: And by Artaxerxes, in his Letter, he is callid a Scribe of the law of the God of heaven, Ezra vii. 6, 11, 12. By which it appears, that there were Scribes of the Law during the Captivity, who were known by this solemn Style and Character, and whose Care and Employment it was, to study and write over the Law, of whom Ezra was the principal at the time of their Return.
s Joseph. vit. sub fin.
+ 2 Maccab. ii. 5. v Maiinon. Præf. in Seder Zeraim. p. 3.
w Drus. de Trib. Sect. l. 3. C. II. Pirke Rab. Elieser c. 38. P. IOI.
It is most probable then, that the Book of the Law was preserv'd in Moses's own hand, till the coming of the Jews from Babylon ; besides the Copies that were preferv'd in the hands of Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra, Zechariah, and the other Prophets, who were not only of unquestionable Integrity, but wrote themselves by Divine Inspiration.
3: Nothing is more .exprefly forbidden in the Books of Moses, than all Fraud and Deceit ; and it cannot reasonably be suspected, that any Man would be guilty of a Fraud of the highest nature imaginable, to introduce or establish a Law that forbids it. Moses had forewarn’d them against all such Prađices, both in his Laws in general, and by an express Prohibition : le shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither Hall ye diminish ought from it, Deut. iv. 2. And all who had any Regard to the Obfervation of his Laws, would observe this, as well as other parts of it; for this preserv'd the Authority of all the rest inviolable : And if they had had ro Regard to the Law, but had alter'd it as they pleas’d, they would certainly have made such Alterations as would have gratify'd the People, and would have taken great care to leave nothing which might give Offence; but the Laws of Moses are such, as that without a Divine Authority to enforce them, they would never have been comply'd with, but would have been grievous to a less fufpicious and impatient People than the Fews were. If it be said, That the Prohibition against Alterations might be added amongst other things; there is no ground of Probability for it, but so much odds against it, that a Man might as well suspect that any
other Pastage in the whole Five Books had been forged, as to pitch upon that particular Verse, and say that it is not genuine. Besides, why should Impostors infert such a Clause as would hinder them from changing any thing in the Law ever, after ? Why fhould they not rather reserve to themselves a, liberty of changing and adding as often as they thought fit?
2. As the Laws themselves could not be invented nor alter'd after Moses's time; so neither could the Account of the Miracles wrought by him, be inserted after his Death, by any particular Man, nor by any Confederacy or Combination of Men whatsoever. For if the Miracles, by which the Law is supposed to be confirm’d, were afterwards inserted, they must be intended as a Sanction, to give Authority to it, and keep the People in awe, when they were become uns easie and disobedient under the Government of those Laws. But it must needs be much more difficult to introduce Laws at first, than to govern a People by them, after they have been once introduc'd, and are fettl'd and receiy'd amongst them. Indeed, it is incredible, how Laws, so little favourable to the Ease or Advantage of a People, which were so expensive and burthensome in their
Ceremonies, and which were purposely design’d, in many things, to be contrary to the Customs of all the Nations round about them, and to: the Customs which they had been themselves acquainted with in Ægypt, in so many Instances, could be at first introduced, but by Miracle : But if they could have been once introduc'd without Miracles, there is no reason to think, but that when the People were used and accustom'd to them, there would have been no. need of any Pretence of Miracles, to keep them in o.. bedience to them; and as little reason there is to imágine that they would have been over-aw'd by a Report of Miracles, which must be suppos'd never to have been heard of, till the People gave occasion for : the Invention of them, by their Disobedience..
The Books of Moses were read (as I have frewn) in the Synagogues, or Religious Affemblics, in the fe veral Tribes, at least every Sabbath-day, and were appointed to be folemnly read, in the audience of all the People, at the Feast of Tabernacles, every Seven Years: and if they had had no Knowledge of the Law of Mcfes, but from the Rehearfal of it at the Feaft of Tabernacles; yet can we conceive, that the Body of the Jews if Nation should be so stupid and forgetful, as not to remember when these Miracles must be fupposed to be first read to them, that they had never heard them before ? But how impoffible is it, that they should be thus imposed upon, when they heard the Books of Moses read every Week to them, and had thein befides in their own keeping, to read them at their leifure? The Miracles now make up great part of the Books of Moses ; they are every where interspers’d and intermix'd, throughout the History; and they are of such a nature, as is most apt to make Impreslion upon the Memories of Men: And can we imagine, that Miracles, fo often repeated, and every where inculcated, could be inserted by any Contrivance, and imposed upon a People who were all wont to hear the Law publickly read in a solemn Assembly once every Seven Years; and heard it read in their Synagogues besides every Seventh Day? Would they not be infinitely surpriz'd, the first time they heard the Relation of the Plagues inflicted on the Ægyptians, of the Judgment upon Korah and his Company, and of the miraculous Punishments which befel the Idolatrous and Disobedient in the Wilderness? Would they not foon have found out so obvious a Deceit, as this must have been, if it had been one ? If we can think that füch Insertions could pass without discovery ; why may we not as well believe too, that as many more might be made now, and not be discover'd? Would not the whole Body of the People have been able to testify that all this was counterfeited, and inserted in
to the Law; for no such thing was read to them in their Synagogues upon the Sabbaths, nor had been read at the end of the last Seven Years, but it was all now added to terrify them, and keep them from following the Customs of other Nations ? Would not this have been the worst Contrivance that could have been thought of, to keep a People in awe, to tell them of such things as every Man of them could disprove, that was of Age, and had but Understanding and Memory enough to know what he had heard so often read be fore, and to distinguish it from such things as are so remarkable, that they could hardly escape any one's Memory, who had ever heard of them?
They had Books of the Law for their private reading; and besides the reading of it in their Weekly Aflemblies, they had a solemn Publication and Proclamation of their Law once every Seven Years, as it were purposely to prevent any Design of falsifying it: And to have read any thing so remarkable, as the Miracles of Moses are, in all their circumstances, so often repeated and insisted upon, if the People had not found them in their own Books, and had not been used to hear them read to them, from the time of the giving the Law by Moses, had been only for the Projectors to proclaim themselves Impostors, but could never have deceived any Man. How impoflible any contrivance of this Nature would have been among a People so suspicious and turbulent as the Jews, we may perceive from what happen’d to an * African Bishop who had a design to introduce the Translation of St. Jerom into his Church. For when his People observed Hedera to be read for Cu-curbita, that is, Ivy instead of Gourd, Jonah iv. they were in such an uproar on the alteration of this one word, in a disputable Case, and of little or no Consequence, that he was forc'd to continue the former Reading.
* Augustin, ad Hieronym. Ep.