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still as closely to the Mosaic dispensation, as their dispersed and despised condition will permit them. Their service consists chiefly in reading the law in their synagogues, together with a variety of prayers. They use no sacrifices since the destruction of the temple. They repeat blessings and particular praises to God, not only in their prayers, but on all accidental occasions, and in almost all their actions. They go to prayers three times a day in their synagogues. Their sermons are not made in hebrew, which few of them now perfectly understand, but in the language of the country where they reside. They are forbidden all vain swearing, and pronouncing any of the names of God without necessity. They abstain from meats prohibited by the Levitical law; for which reason whatever they eat must be dressed by jews, and after a manner peculiar to themselves. As soon as a child can speak, they teach him to read and translate the bible into the language of the country where they live. In general they observe the same ceremonies which were practised by their ancestors in the celebration of the passover. They acknowledge a two-fold law of God, a written and an unwritten ene: the former is contained
in the pentateuch, or five books of Moses; the latter, they pretend, was delivered by God to Moses, and handed down from him by oral tradition, and now to be received as of equal authority with the former. They assert the perpetuity of their law, together with its perfection. They deny the accomplishment of the prophecies in the person of Christ; alleging that the Messiah is not yet come, and that he will make his appearance with the greatest worldly pomp and grandeur, subduing all nations before him, and subjecting them to the house of Judah. Since the prophets have predicted his mean condition and sufferings, they confidently talk of two Messiahs; one, Ben-Ephraim, whom they grant to be a person of a mean and afflicted condition in this world ; and the other, BenDavid, who shall be a victorious and powerful prince. The jews pray for the souls of the dead, because they suppose there is a paradise for the souls of good men, where they enjoy glory in the presence of God. They believe that the souls of the wicked are tormented in hell with fire and other punishments; that some are condemned to be punished in this manner for ever, while others continue only for a limited time ; and this they call purgatory, which is not different from hell in respect of the place, but of the duration. They suppose no jew, unless guilty of heresy, or certain crimes specified by the rabbins, shall continue in purgatory above a twelvemonth; and that there are but few who suffer eternal punishment.”
Almost all the modern jews are pharisces,t and are as much attached to tradition as their ancestors were ; and assert that whoever rejects the oral law deserves death. Hence they entertain an implacable hatred to the Caraites, a sect among the jews, who adhere to the text of Moses and the word of God; rejecting the rabbinistical interpretation and cabala. The number of the Caraites is small, in comparison with the rabbins; and the latter have so great an aversion to this sect, that they will have no alliance, or even conversation with them : and if a Caraite should turn rabbinist, the otherjews would not receive him.
There are still some of the sadducees in Africa, and in several other places ; but they are few in number: at least there are but very few who declare openly for these opinions.
There are to this day some remains of the ancient sect of the Samaritans, who are zealous for the law of Moses, but are despised by the jews, because they receive only the pentateuch, and observe different ceremonies from theirs. They declare they are no sadducees, but acknowledge the spirituality and immortality of the soul. There are numbers of this sect at Gaza, Damascus, Grand Cairo, and in some other places of the east; but especially at Sichem, now called Naplouse, which is risen out of the ruins of the ancient Samaria, where they sacrificed not many years ago, having a place for this purpose on Mount Gerizim.t With regard to the ten tribes, the learned Mr. Basnage supposes they still subsist in the east, and gives the following reasons for this opinion:—(1.) Salmanassar had placed them upon the banks of the Chaboras, which emptied itself into the Euphrates. On the west was Ptolemy's Chalcitis, and the city Carra ; and therefore God has brought back the jews to the country whence the patriarchs came. On the east was the province of Ganzan, betwixt the two rivers Chaboras and Saocoras. This
* Orckley's History of the Jews, p. 233.
+ Their doctrines are similar to those of the ancient Pharisees, See the Introduction to this Work,
# Collier's Historical Dictionary.
was the first situation of the tribes: but they spread into the neighbouring provinces, and upon the banks of the Euphrates.—(2.) . The ten tribes were still in being in this country when Jerusalem was destroyed, since they came in multitudes to pay their devotions in the temple.—(3.) They subsisted there from that time to the eleventh century, since they had their headsofthe captivity and most flourishing academies.—(4.) Though they were considerably weakened by persecutions, yet travellers of that nation discovered abundance of their brethren and synagogues in the twelfth and fourteenth centuries.—(5.) No new colony has been sent into the east, nor have those which were there been driven out.—(6.) The history of the jews has been deduced from age to age, without discovering any other change than what was caused by the different revolutions of that empire, the various tempers of the governors, or the inevitable decay in a nation, which only subsists by toleration. We have therefore reason to conclude that the ten tribes are still in the cast, whither God suffered them to be carried. If the families and tribes are not
distinguishable, it is impossi
ble it should be otherwise in so long a course of ages and afflictions which they have passed through. In fine, says this learned author, if we would seek out the remains of
the ten tribes, we must do
it only on the banks of Euphrates, in Persia, and the
It is impossible to fix the number of people the jewish nation is at present composed of: but yet we have reason to believe there are still near three millions of people who profess this religion; and, as their phrase is, are witnesses of the unity of God in all the nations in the world.”
The jews, however, since the destruction of Jerusalem, have never been able to regain the smallest footing in the country of Judea, nor indeed in any country on earth, though there is scarcely any part of the globe where they are not to be found. They continue their expectations of a Messiah to deliver them from the low estate into which they are fallen: and notwithstanding their repeated disappointments, there are few who can ever be persuaded to embrace christianity. In many countries, and in different ages, they have been terribly massacred; and, in general, have been better treated by maho
metans and pagans than by christians. It is said, that in Britain the life of a jew was formerly at the disposal of the chief lord where he lived, and likewise all his goods. So strong also were popular prejudices and suspicions against them, that in the year 1348, a fatal epidemic distemper raging in a great part of Europe, it was reported that they had poisoned the springs and wells; in consequence of which a million and a half were cruelly massacred. In 1493 half a million of them were driven out of Spain, and fifteen thousand from Portugal.” Edward the first, of Eng
land, seized upon all their real
* Encyclopaedia, vol. ix. p. 143.
* See a particular account of the sufferings and revolutions which the jews have met with in England, in the Monthly Magazine for 1796.
# In Berlin the jews are now enjoying singular honours, as men of genius and study. The late Moses Mendelsohn, by the force of his reasoning, has been surnamed the jewish Socrates; and by the amenity of his diction, the jewish Plato... Bloch, a jewish physician, was the first naturalist of the age :
erz is a professor, with four hundred auditors; Mainon, a profound metaphysician. There are jewish poets and jewish artists of eminence, and which perhaps exist no where but in Berlin, a jewish academy of sciences, and jewish literary journal, composed in hebrew. (See Vaurier, or the Sketches of the Times, vol. ii. p. 349.)—A large number of jews at Berlin, heads of families, of respectable character, have subscribed and published a letter to Mr. Teller, provost of the upper consistory, (the department of government which has the superintendence of ecclesiastical affairs) in which they declare, that being convinced the laws of Moses are no longer binding upon them, as not being adapted to their circumstances at this day, they are willing and ready to become christians, as far as relates to the moral doctrines of christianity, provided they shall not be required to believe the miraculous part of the christian creed, and above all, the divinity of Jesus Christ; and provided they may be admitted to enjoy all the rights and privileges enjoyed by the members of the established religion. Their confession of faith would be something less than Socinianism, but approaching nearly to it. They ask Mr. Teller's advice on this plan, and whether he thinks it practicable 2 Mr. Teller has published an answer, in which he informs them that they do well to believe as much of christianity as they can ; and that if they cannot in conscience believe more, they do well to Profess it : but as to the questiou whether their fraginent of faith ought to
Portugal, and some of the
continent, and in the adjacent countries.[
David Levi, a learned jew, who in 1796 published “Dissertations on the Prophecies of the Old Testament,” observes in that work, that deism and infidelity have made such large strides in the world, that they have at length reached even to the jewish nation; many of whom are at this time so greatly infected with scepticism, by reading Bolingbroke, Hume, Voltaire, &c., that they scarcely believe in a revelation; much less have they any hope in their future Testoration.
entitle them to share the civil and political privileges enjoyed exclusively by entire christians, it is not in his province, but belongs to the civil authority of the country to decide. Mr. De Lue, a celebrated chymist and theologian, has published a letter
to these jews, in which he . advances to meet them on the . which Mr. Teller eludes: he tells them that, far from scrupling points o christian doctrine, they ought not even to abandon the standard of Moses;that the history of the earth and its present appearance are the strongest of all possible testimonies to the truth of the Mosaic history, and that if they will only take the pains to be better natural philosophers, they will not be so ready to renounce their faith as jews. There have been numerous F. more written and published upon this subject, which make, as the *rench term it, a great sensation in the north of Germany, See Letters from an American resident abroad, on various topics of foreign literature, published in the Port Folio, 1801.
* Encyclopædia, vol. ix. p. 143.