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work, they observed the irregularities they had committed, why did not they
K k k 2
" Chappelow's Commentary on Job ix. 34. See also on chap. xi. 14,
1 or not.
“ true literal text of scripture; and consequently, notwithstanding their “ enmity and obstinate aversion to Christianity, they are not to be charged “ with this additional crime of having corrupted the Bible ;”, and after all, have not the Christians had their Maforetes also *, who, with like diligence and faithfulness, have numbered all the verses, both of the Greek version of the Old Testament and of the books of the New? And have they been blamed for it? Jeromy numbered the verses of the book of Proverbs, and says they were 915, exactly as the Masorab. Some words, through length of time, became obscene and offensive to chaste ears, at least were thought so?; hence the Masoretes placed other words in the margin, which, perhaps, is the boldest thing they ever did, and of which the Karaite Jews complain; but then they never attempted to remove the other words from the text, and put in theirs in their room; they only placed them where they did, that, when the passages were read in public, or in families, the reader might be supplied with words that signified the same, only more pure and chaste, and less offensive; at least which were thought so; and which were left to their own option to read them
The passages are Deut. xxviii. 27, 30. 1 Sam. v. 6, 9. Ifai. xiii. 16. chap. xxxvi. 12. Zech. xiv, 2. 2 Kings vi. 25. chap. x. 27. and chap. xviii. 27. and it would not be improper, if, in the margin of our Bibles overagainst the last, and others that have the same word, another English word or words were put to be read less offensive. And, by the way, from the change of words proposed in those passages, may be drawn an argument in favour of the antiquity of the Masoretes. For this part of their work must be done, whilst the Hebrew language was a living language, when only the difference of words offensive or not offensive to the ear could be discerned, and a change of them.necessary: and certain it is, these notes were made before the Talmud, for mention is made of them in ita; yea, these variations are followed by the ancient Targums, by Onkelos, and the Jerusalem on Deut. xxviii. 27, 30. and not only by Pseudo Jonathan on i Sam. v. 6, 9. 2 Kings vi. 25. chap. x. 27. and chap. xviii. 27. but by the true Jonathan on Isai. xiii. 16. and chap. xxxvi. 12. and Zech. xiv. 2. who and Onkelos are supposed to live in the first century. As for the word Sebirim, sometimes used by the Maforetes in their notes; this only respects the conjectures of some persons, who thought a word should be otherwise read or pointed; but it is what the Maforetes object to, and fay of such persons, that they are mistaken: and this they observe, that no one may
presume Vid. Croji Observ. in Nov. Telt. c. 1. &ci 1o. y Qi celo seu Trad. Heb. lib Reg. 3. fol. 80. I. tom. 3. z Maimor. Morch Nesochim, par. 3. c. 8. · T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 25, 2,
presume to make any alteration upon such conjectures : and are they to be blamed for this? And, besides these things, what have they done, except transmitting, from age to age, the marginal or various readings, which had been observed by collating copies, or which arose from their own observations, by comparing different copies that lay before them; and from delivering them down to posterity, they obtained the name of Masoretes ; and can this be thought to be culpable in them? They left the text as they found it; nor did they offer of themselves to insert a various reading, different from the commonly received copy, but placed such readings in the margin, that others might make what use of them they pleased; or rather they took this method, to prevent the insertion of them into the text, suggesting, that so they found them, and there it was proper to continue them: and is a Bible with such readings the worse for them? Is a Greek. Testament to be dif-esteemed, for having the various readings in it collected from different copies? Or are our English Bibles with the marginal readings in them, placed by the tranNators themselves, with references to other scriptures, the less valuable on that account? Nay, are they not the more valued for them? And it may be observed, that these Keries, or marginal readings of the Hebrew text, are followed in many places, by some of the best translators of the Bible, both ancient and modern. Aquila and Symmachus, the best of the ancient Greek interpreters, almost always follow them. Jerom had knowledge of them, and testifies to Aquila's following them, in a particular instance. His words are, Aseremoto " in Jer. xxxi. 40. for which, in a Hebrew copy it is written Sedemoth, which
Aquila interprets suburbana.” And which reading is preferred by Jerom", as is the marginal reading of ver. 38. And if he was the author of the Vulgate Latin version, that agrees with the marginal readings of the Masoretes in several places ; see Jof. iii. 16. and chap. xv. 47.
2 Sam. viii. 3. 2 Kings xix. 31. all which shew the antiquity of these readings. So modern interpreters, Junius and Tremellius, our own translators, and the Dutch", often follow them, as do various interpreters, boch Papists and Protestants. Nay, some of these readings and notes are confirmed by the inspired writers of the New Testament. Thus, for instance, in Psal. xvi. 10. the word rendered holy One, is written with a yod, as if it was plural; but the Maforetic note on it is, that the yod is redundant, and so the word is to be considered as of the singular number ; and this is confirmed by two inspired writers, the apostles Peter and Paul, Aets ii.
• Montfaucon. Hexapla Origen. vol. 2. p. 549.
• De loc. Heb. fol. 89. B. d Comment in Hieremiam, c. 31. 40. fol. 161. F. · Leusden. Philolog. Heb. Mixt, Dissert. 10. f. 9. p. 84.
27. and chap. xiii. 35. Again, in Prov. iii. 34. the Cetib, or textual writing is, Ougys, the poor; but the Keri, or marginal reading, Ondys, the humble, or lowly, which is followed by our translators of the text, and is confirmed by two apostles, James and Peter, Jam. iv. 6. 1 Pet. V. 5. And what have the Masoretes done in this respect, but what the learned Dr Kennicott is now doing, or getting done in the several libraries in Europe ; that is, collating the several copies, and collecting from them the various readings ; and which, if I understand his design aright, is not to form, upon his own judgment, a new copy of the Hebrew text; but to do with the present copy in common use, what others have done with the New Testament ; let it stand as it is, with the various readings thrown into the margin as they may be collected, and leave them to every one's judgment, with some critical rules to form it, to make use of them as they please: and when this learned gentleman has finished his large Masoretic work, he will be the greatest Maforete that ever any age produced ; since not only eight hundred and forty-eight various readings, as Elias' has reckoned those of the Masoretes to be, but as many thousands, and more will now appear. I say not this, to depreciate his laborious undertaking, far be it from me; he has my good wishes for the finishing of it, and what little aliftance otherwise I can give him in it. For I am not so great an enthusiast, for the integrity of the present printed Hebrew copy, as to imagine, that it is entirely clear of the mistakes of transcribers in all places : to imagine this, is to suppose a miraculous interposition of Divine Providence attending the copiers of it, and that constant and universal; and if but one copier was under such an influence, it would be very extraordinary indeed, if his copy should be lighted on at the first printing of the Hebrew Bible ; and besides, the first Hebrew Bible that was printed, was not printed from one copy, but from various copies collated ; nor is there more reason to believe, that the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, which is more ancient, should be preserved from the escapes of librarians, than the Greek of the New Testament, which it is too notorious are many; nor is suffering fuch escapes any contradiction to the Promise and Providence of God, respecting the preservation of the Sacred Writings, Gince all of any moment is preserved in the several copies; so that what is omitted, or stands wrong in one copy, may be fupplied and set right by another, which is a sufficient vindication of Divine Providence; and this may serve to excite the diligence and industry of learned men, in collating the feveral copies for such a purpose ; and besides, the Providence of God remarkably appears, in that the efcapes suffered to be made do not affect any doctrine of faith, or any moral practice, as has been observed and owned by many 8: and after all, if from the present collation of manuscripts, there should be published, what may be thought a more correct and perfect copy of the Hebrew text, we shall be beholden to the Jews for it, against whom the clamour rises so high : for by whom were the manuscripts written, now collating, but by Jews ? For the truth of this, I appeal to the learned collator himself; and who, if I mistake not, in his printed Differtations always repre. sents the several Hebrew copies, whether more or less perfect, as the work of Jewish transcribers ; and indeed the thing speaks for itself: for from the times of Jerom to the age of printing, there were scarce any, if any at all among Christians, capable of transcribing an Hebrew copy; that interval was a time of barbarous ignorance, as with respect to arts and sciences, so with respect to languages, especially the Hebrew. To know a little Greek, in those barbarous times, was enough to make a man suspected of heresy ; and to study Hebrew, was almost sufficient to proclaim him an heretic at once: the study of which lay much neglected, until it was revived by Reuchlin and others, a little before, and about the time of the Reformation. There might, in the above space of time, rise up now and then one, who had some knowledge of the Hebrew tongue, as Raymund in the thirteenth century, the author of Pugio Fidei ; and friar Bacon, who wrote an Hebrew grammar in the latter end of the fame century, and which perhaps was the first, at least one of the first Hebrew grammars written by a Christian ; though since, we have had a multitude of them : for almost every smatterer in the Hebrew language thinks himself qualified to write a grammar of it. However, there is no reason to believe, as I can understand, that any of our Hebrew manuscripts were written by Christians, but all by Jews, I mean such as were written before the age of printing; for what have been written since, can be of no account.
doctrine Præfat. 3. ad Masoret,
I observe there is much talk about the Maforetic Bible, and about Masoretic authority. As to the Maforetic Bible, I could never learn there ever was such an one, either in manuscript, or in print, that could with any propriety be so called. Is a Bible with points to be colled Masoretic ? It must be with great impropriety, since the Maforetes, as has been observed, were not the authors of pointing : are any called fo, because they have various readings, and other nates in the margin? As well may a Greek Testament, with various readings, and notes in the margin, have such a name. Let it be shewn, if it can, that
there 8. Amamæ Antibarb. Bibl. l. 1. p. 20, 22, Bochart. Phaleg. l. 2, c. 13. col. 91, 92. Walton. Prolegom. 6. f. 1. 3. & 7. f. 12. is and Considerator considered, p. 127, 162, Capellus de Critica. Epist. ad User, p. 116. Dr Kennicott, Dissert. 1. p. 11. 301,