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exercise of their laws. The synagogues, as those of Damascus, judged with authority of religious affairs, in which even the Christians were interested. The high priest was not without power. There were judges even in Chaldæa, as it appears from the History of Susanna, false as it is But not the shadow of sovereign authority now remains ; and yet the nation remains, and consists of millions.
The judgments which God has exercised upon this people are terrible, extending to the men, the religion, and the very land in which they dwelt. The ceremonies essential to their religion can no more be observed. The ritual law, which cast a splendor on the national worship, and struck the Pagans so much that they sent their presents and their victims to Jerusalem, is absolutely fallen ; for they have no temple, no altar, no sacrifices. Their land itself seems to lie under a never-ceasing curse. Pagans, Christians, Mohammedans, in a word almost all nations, have by turns seized and held Jerusalem. To the Jew only hath God refused the possession of this small tract of ground so supremely necessary for him, since he ought to worship on this mountain. A Jewish writer hath affirmed that it is long since any Jew was seen settled near Jerusalem : scarcely can they purchase there six feet of land, for a burying-place.
In all this there is no exaggeration. I am only pointing out known facts ; and far from having the least design to raise an odium against the nation from its miseries, I conclude that it ought to be looked upon as one of those prodigies which we admire without comprehending, since in spite of evils so durable, and a patience so long exercised, it is preserved by a particular Providence. The Jew ought to be weary of expecting a Messias who so unkindly disappoints his vain hopes, and the Christian ought to have his attention and his regard excited towards men, whom God preserves, for so great a length of time, under calamities which would have been the total ruin of any other people." Basnage, Hist. des Juifs, iv. 1.
Some have observed that the preservation of the Gypsies is as extraordinary as that of the Jews : but this is thrown out by way of jest, which, like gravity and solemnity in
another sort of writers, often supplies the want of
argument. For what comparison between the Jewish nation, and a collection of strollers of various countries, who perhaps have not existed as a body above four hundred years, who, far from dogmatizing, seem to be of no religion at all, who never appeared in arms, and made themselves formidable, whom rags and contempt have secured from violent persecution, and who, at the worst, have been only driven from place to place, which to them was no great punishment, for frauds and petty-larcenies ?
T. Jackson, in his theological works, hath given a summary account of the calamities of the Jews, from the time of their rebellion against Christ: but he hath not showed the candour and the caution of Basnage; he is prejudiced against them, treats them over severely, judges too harshly, and pays too much regard to the ridiculous stories and lying slanders which have been raised by Christians against them. One would wonder how zeal could transport a good and learned man to such a degree against this miserable nation. Vol. i. p. 92, &c.
Our Saviour said to the Jews, I am come in my Father's
receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. This remarkable prediction of our Lord hath been evidently and frequently fulfilled : for,
In the interval between the resurrection of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem, many false Christs and false prophets arose, of whom- mention is made by St. Luke and by Josephus.
In the reign of Adrian, Barcochab pretended to be the Messias, and perished with his followers.
In the time of Theodosius the younger, A. D. 434. another impostor arose, called Moses Cretensis. He pretended to be a second Moses, sent to deliver the Jews who dwelt in Crete, and promised to divide the sea, and give them a safe
passage through it. They assembled together, with their wives and children, and followed him to a promontory. He there commanded them to cast themselves into the sea. Many of them readily obeyed him, and perished in the waters, and many were taken up and saved
by fishermen. Upon this, the deluded Jews would have torn the impostor to pieces, but he escaped them, and was seen no more 2. Socrates vii. 38.
Socrates relates here a story of what happened in his own days. He says not that this fellow wrought any miracles to bewitch his countrymen ; unless it be supposed a sort of miracle to make a Jew fling away himself and his money too. It is plain that the impostor could propose neither profit nor credit by thus deluding and destroying the Jews; and therefore we may conclude that he was a frantic enthusiast, and that perhaps in the hurry and bustle he jumped down himself unseen, and was drowned.
In the reign of Justin, A. D. 520, another false prophet is said to have appeared, and to have called himself the son of Moses. His name was Dunaan. He entered into a city of Arabia Felix, and there he oppressed the Christians; but he was taken prisoner and put to death by Elesban, an Æthiopian general. See a fuller account of this Dunaan, in Fleury, H. E. t. vii. p. 272. and in Basnage Hist. des Juifs, who says that Dunaan was no false Messias, but a king of the Homerites. vi. 20. p. 1375.
The Jews and Samaritans of Palæstine rebelled against the emperor Justinian, A. D. 529., and set up one Julian for their king, and accounted him the Messias ; but the Romans made a great slaughter of them, and their king was killed. J. a Lent. This rebellion is to be ascribed to the Samaritans, who were oppressed on account of their religion by Justinian, a wrong-headed prince, and a great persecutor of heretics. See Fleury, H. E. t. vii. p. 326.
A. D. 571. Mohammed was born in Arabia. He at first professed himself to be the Messias who was promised to the Jews, and he drew after him many of them, and so may claim a place in the catalogue of false Christs.
A. D. 721. Another impostor, a Syrian, arose in the time of Leo Isaurus : he called himself the Messias, and was received as such by the Jews.
A. D. 1137. A false Christ made, his appearance in France. He was put to death, and many Jews suffered at
the same time, being accused of crucifying a Christian boy once a year.
A. D. 1138. The Persians were disturbed by a Jew, who called himself the Messias, and collected a formidable army of his countrymen. The Persian king submitted to compound the matter with him, and hired him to disband his soldiers. But afterwards he seized and beheaded him, and made the Jews in his dominions pay him back all the money which he had given to their Messias ; by which they were reduced to a state of beggary, and to a necessity of selling their children. He continued to treat them very cruelly, and subjected them to all kinds of insults.
In the same century, A. D. 1157, a false Messias stirred up the Jews at Corduba in Spain ; upon which almost all the Jews of that kingdom were destroyed.
A. D. 1167. Another arose in the kingdom of Fez, who is mentioned by Maimonides.
In the same year appeared a false prophet, and, as it seems, an enthusiast also : it was in Arabia. He pretended to be the forerunner of the Messias. When search was made for him, his followers fled, and he was brought be fore the Arabian king. He was questioned by him, and replied that he was indeed a prophet sent from God. The king then asked him what sign or miracle he could show, to confirm his mission. Cut off my head, said he, and I will return to life again. The king took him at his word, promising to believe in him if it came to pass, and cut off his head. But the prophet never attempted to fasten it on again; and the Jews of Arabia had a heavy fine laid upon them.
Yet some of them, says Maimonides, were so infatuated as to expect his resurrection.
Not long after this, a Jew who dwelt beyond Euphrates called himself the Messias, and gave this for a sign of it, that he was leprous all night, and clean all day. He perished in his attempt.
A. D. 1174. A magician and false Christ was seen in Persia, who brought the Jews into great tribulation.
A. D. 1176. Another arose in Moravia, who was called David Almusser. He pretended that he could make
himself invisible: but he was taken, and put to death, and a heavy fine was laid upon his brethren, the Jews.
Solomon Ben Virgæ mentions another impostor ; but we know not in what year or in what place he set up his claim.
A. D. 1199. A famous cheat and a rebel exerted himself in Persia, called David el David, or David Alroi, a learned man, and a magician, who is reported to have wrought many miracles. He raised an army against the king, but was taken and imprisoned ; and having escaped, was again seized, and was beheaded. Benjamin Tudelensis and Solomon Ben Virgæ have given us an account, abounding with lies, concerning the wonders wrought by this inchanter.
A. D. 1497. We find another Messias, whose name was Ismael Sophus, who deluded the Jews in Spain.
A. D. 1500. Rabbi Lemlem, a German Jew of Austria, declared himself a forerunner of the Messias, and pulled down his own oven, promising his brethren that they should bake their bread in the Holy Land the next year.
A. D. 1509. Jo. Henricus Majus, in his Life of Reuchlin, says that one Pfefferkorn, a Jew of Cologn, pretended to be the Messias. Pfefferkorn afterwards turned Christian, and joined with James Hochstrat (an inquisitor, and a man thoroughly qualified for his vile office) to plague the Jews, and to persecute Reuchlin. This quarrel excited some wit to write the “ Epistolæ Obscurorum Virorum,' in which Hochstrat and his stupid monks and doctors are set in a ridiculous light, and make a very droll figure. Bayle gives an account of these disputes in his Dict. Hochstrat.
A. D. 1534. In Spain Rabbi Salomo Malcho, giving out that he was the Messias, was burnt by Charles the fifth ; and the Christians were so superstitious that they stopped the rabbi's mouth, when they brought him to the stake, lest by uttering some charm he should escape out of their hands. The poor wretch was a sort of martyr; for it is said that he might have saved his life if he would have renounced Judaism.
A. D. 1615. A false Christ arose in the East Indies, and was followed by the Portuguese Jews. Vol. II.