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ters, but none from the vowel points; which they could not have neglected if they had been acquainted with them. And hence it is concluded, that the points were not in existence when the Cabbalistic interpretations were made.
5. Although the Talmud contains the determinations of the Jewish doctors concerning many passages of the law, it is evident that the points were not affixed to the text when the Talmud was composed; because there are several disputes concerning the sense of passages of the law, which could not have been controverted if the points had then been in existence. Besides, the vowel points are never mentioned, though the fairest opportunity for noticing them offered itself, if they had really then been in use. The compilation of the Talmud was not finished until the sixth century.1
6. The ancient various readings, called Keri and Ketib, or Khetibh, (which were collected a short time before the completion of the Talmud), relate entirely to consonants and not to vowel points; yet, if these had existed in manuscript at the time the Keri and Khetib were collected, it is obvious that some reference would directly or indirectly have been made to them. The silence, therefore, of the collectors of these various readings is a clear proof of the non-existence of vowel points in their time.
7. The antient versions, for instance, the Chaldee paraphrases of Jonathan and Onkelos, and the Greek versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, but especially the Septuagint version, — all read the text, in many passages, in senses different from that which the points determine them to mean. Whence it is evident, that if the points had then been known, pointed manuscripts would have been followed as the most correct: but as the authors of those versions did not use them, it is a plain proof that the points were not then in being.
8. The antient Jewish writers themselves are totally silent concerning the vowel points, which surely would not have been the case if they had been acquainted with them. Much stress indeed has been laid upon the books Zohar and Bahir, but these have been proved not to have been known for a thousand years after the birth of Christ. Even Buxtorf himself admits, that the book Zohar could not have been written till after the tenth century; and the rabbis Gedaliah and Zachet confess that it was not mentioned before the year 1290, and that it presents internal evidence that it is of a much later date than is pretended. It is no uncommon practice of the Jews to publish books of recent date under the names of old writers, in order to render their authority respectable, and even to alter and interpolate antient writers in order to subserve their own views.
9. Equally silent are the antient fathers of the Christian church, Origen and Jerome. In some fragments still extant, of Origen's vast biblical work, entitled the Hexapla (of which some account is given
pressions seemed naturally to import, or which were even intended by their inspired authors. Some learned men have imagined, that the Cabbalists arose soon after the time of Ezra; but the truth is, that no Cabbalistic writings are extant but what are posterior to the destruction of the second temple. For an entertaining account of the Cabbala, and of the Cabbalistical philosophy, see Mr. Allen's Modern Judaism, pp. 65-94, or Dr. Enfield's History of Philosophy, vol. ii. 199-221.
1 For an account of the Talmud, see Chapter VII., infra.
in a subsequent page), we have a specimen of the manner in which Hebrew was pronounced in the third century; and which, it appears, was widely different from that which results from adopting the Masoretic reading. Jerome also, in various parts of his works, where he notices the different pronunciations of Hebrew words, treats only the letters, and nowhere mentions the points, which he surely would have done, had they been found in the copies consulted by him.
10. The letters N, 7, 1, 2, (Aleph, He, Vau, and Yod) upon the plan of the Masorites, are termed quiescent, because, according to them, they have no sound. At other times, these same letters indicate a variety of sounds, as the fancy of these critics has been pleased to distinguish them by points. This single circumstance exhibits the whole doctrine of points as the baseless fabric of a vision. To suppress altogether, or to render insignificant, a radical letter of any word, in order to supply its place by an arbitrary dot or a fictitious mark, is an invention fraught with the grossest absurdity. 1
11. Lastly, as the first vestiges of the points that can be traced are to be found in the writings of Rabbi Ben Asher, president of the western school, and of Rabbi Ben Naphthali, chief of the eastern school, who flourished about the middle of the tenth century, we are justified in assigning that as the epoch when the system of vowel points was established.
Such are the evidences on which the majority of the learned rest their convictions of the modern date of the Hebrew points: it now remains, that we concisely notice the arguments adduced by the Buxtorfs, and their followers, for the antiquity of these points.
1. From the nature of all languages it is urged that they require vowels, which are in a manner the soul of words. This is readily conceded as an indisputable truth, but it is no proof of the antiquity of the vowel points: for the Hebrew language always had and still has vowels, independent of the points, without which it may be read. Origen, who transcribed the Hebrew Scriptures in Greek characters in his Hexapla, did not invent new vowels to express the vowels absent in Hebrew words, neither did Jerome, who also expressed many Hebrew words and passages in Latin characters. The Samaritans, who used the same alphabet as the Hebrews, read without the vowel points, employing the matres lectionis, Aleph, He or Hheth, Jod, Oin, and Vau, (a, e, i, o, u,) for vowels; and the Hebrew may be read in the same manner, with the assistance of these letters, by supplying them where they are not expressed, agreeably to the modern practice of the Jews, whose Talmud and rabbinical commentators, as well as the copies of the law preserved in the synagogues, are to this day read without vowel points.
2. It is objected that the reading of Hebrew would be rendered very uncertain and difficult without the points, after the language ceased to be spoken. To this it is replied, that even after Hebrew ceased to be a vernacular language, its true reading might have been continued among learned men to whom it was familiar, and also in their schools, which flourished before the invention of the points. And thus daily practice in reading, as well as a consideration of the context, would enable them not only to fix the meaning of doubtful words, but also
1 Wilson's Elements of Hebrew Grammar, p. 48.
to supply the vowels which were deficient, and likewise to fix words to one determinate reading. Cappel,' and after him Masclef,2 have given some general rules for the application of the matres lectionis, to enable us to read Hebrew without points.
3. "Many Protestant writers have been led to support the authority of the points, by the supposed uncertainty of the appointed text; which would oblige us to follow the direction of the church of Rome. This argument, however, makes against those who would suppose Ezra to have introduced the points: for in that case, from Moses to his day, the text being unpointed must have been obscure and uncertain; and if this were not so, why should not the unpointed text have remained intelligible and unambiguous after his time, as it had done before it? This argument, moreover, grants what they who use it are not aware of: for if it be allowed that the unpointed text is ambiguous and uncertain, and would oblige us in consequence to recur to the church of Rome, the Roman Catholics may prove-at least with every appearance of truth-that it has always been unpointed, and that therefore we must have recourse to the church to explain it. Many writers of that communion have had the candour to acknowledge, that the unpointed Hebrew text can be read and understood like the Samaritan text; for although several words in Hebrew may, when separate, admit of different interpretations, the context usually fixes their meaning with precision;3 or, if it ever fail to do so, and leave their meaning still ambiguous, recourse may be had to the interpretations of antient translators or commentators. We must likewise remember, that the Masorites, in affixing points to the text, did not do so according to their own notions how it ought to be read; they followed the received reading of their day, and thus fixed unalterably that mode of reading which was authorised among them and therefore, though we reject these points as their invention, and consider that they never were used by any inspired writer, yet it by no means follows, that for the interpretation of Scripture we must go to a supposed infallible church; for we acknowledge the divine original of what the points express, namely, the sentiments conveyed by the letters and words of the sacred text." 4
4. In further proof of the supposed antiquity of vowel points, some passages have been adduced from the Talmud, in which accents and verses are mentioned. The fact is admitted, but it is no proof of the existence of points; neither is mention of certain words in the Masoretic notes, as being irregularly punctuated, any evidence of their existence or antiquity: for the Masora was not finished by one author, nor in one century, but that system of annotation was commenced and prosecuted by various Hebrew critics through several ages. Hence it happened that the latter Masorites, having detected mistakes in their predecessors, (who had adopted the mode of pronouncing and reading used in their day), were unwilling to alter such mistakes, but contented themselves with noting particular words as having been irregularly and improperly pointed. These notes
1 Arcanum Punctationis revelatum, lib. i. c. 18.
2 Grammatica Hebraica, vol. i. cap. 1. § iv.
3 Thus the English verb to skin has two opposite meanings: but the context will always determine which it bears in any passage where it occurs.
4 Hamilton's Introd. to the Study of the Hebrew Scriptures, pp. 44, 45.
therefore furnish no evidence of the existence of points before the time of the first compilers of the Masora. 1
The preceding are the chief arguments usually urged for and against the vowel points: and from an impartial consideration of them, the reader will be enabled to judge for himself. The weight of evidence, we apprehend, will be found to determine against them: nevertheless, "the points seem to have their uses, and these not inconsiderable; and to have this use among others-that, as many of the Hebrew letters have been corrupted since the invention of the points, and as the points subjoined originally to the true letters have been in many of these places regularly preserved, these points will frequently concur in proving the truth of such corruptions, and will point out the method of correcting them." 2
Such being the relative utility of the vowel points, it has been recommended to learn the Hebrew language, in the first instance, without them; as the knowledge of the points can, at any time, be sup dded without very great labour. 3
ON THE SAMARITAN PENTATEUCH.
1. Origin of the Samaritans. II. Their enmity against the Jews in the time of Jesus Christ. III. Critical notice of the Samaritan Pentateuch, and of its variations from the Hebrew. IV. Versions of the Samaritan Pentateuch.
THE SAMARITANS, mentioned in the New Testament, were in part descended from the ten tribes, most of whom had been made captive by the Assyrians, blended with other distant nations, and settled in the same district with their conquerors. The different people for some time retained their respective modes of worship; but the country being depopulated by war, and infested with wild beasts, the mixed multitude imagined, according to the ideas then generally prevalent in the heathen world, that this was a judgment upon them for not worshipping the God of the country in which they resided. On this account one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria, came and "dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord." (2 Kings xvii. 24-33.) The temple of Jerusalem being destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, the Samaritans proposed to join with the Jews, after their return from the captivity, in rebuilding it, but their proposal was rejected (Ezra iv. 1-3.); and, other causes of dissension arising, the Samaritans, at length, by permission of Alexander the Great, erect
1 Walton Prol. iii. §§ 38-56, (pp. 125-170.) Carpzov, Crit. Sacr. Vet. Test. part i. c. v. sect. vii. pp. 242-274. Pfeiffer, Critica Sacra, cap. iv. sect. ii. (Op. pp. 704-711.) Gerard's Institutes, pp. 32-38. Jahn, Introd. ad Vet. Fœdus, pp. 129 -131, Bauer, Critica Sacra, pp. 128-141. Bishop Marsh, (Lectures, part ii. pp.136 -140.) has enumerated the principal writers for and against the vowel points.
2 Dr. Kennicott, Dissertation i. on Hebrew Text, p. 345.
3 For an account of the principal Hebrew Grammars and Lexicons, see the Appendix to this Volume, No. I.
ed a temple on Mount Gerizim, in opposition to that at Jerusalem. Here the Samaritans performed the same worship with the Jews, and also continued as free from idolatry as the Jews themselves: Sanballat, who was then governor of the Samaritans, constituted Manasses, the son of Jaddus, the Jewish high priest, high priest of the temple at Gerizim, which, from that time, they maintained to be the place where men ought to worship.
II. Hence arose that inveterate enmity and schism between the two nations, of which we meet with numerous examples in the New Testament. How flagrant and bitter their rage was, is evident from the instance of the woman of Samaria, who appeared amazed that our Lord, who was a Jew, should so far deviate from the national antipathy as to ask her, who was a Samaritan, even for a cup of cold water; for the Jews, adds the sacred historian, have no friendly intercourse and dealings with the Samaritans. (John iv. 9.) With a Jew, the very name of Samaritan comprised madness and malice, drunkenness and apostacy, rebellion and universal detestation. When instigated by rage against our blessed Saviour, the first word their fury dictated was Samaritan- Thou art a Samaritan and hast a devil! (John viii. 48.) It is remarkable that the pious and amiable author of the book of Ecclesiasticus was not exempt from the national prejudices, but ranks them that sit upon the hill of Samaria, and the foolish people that dwell in Sichem, among those whom his soul abhorred; and reckons them among the nations that were most detestable to the Jews. (Ecclus. 1. 25, 26.) Nor did the Samaritans yield to the Jews in virulence and invective, reproaching them for erecting their temple on a spot that was not authorised by the divine command; and asserting that Gerizim was the sole, genuine, and individual seat which God had originally chosen to fix his name and worship there. (John iv. 20.) How sanguine the attachment of the Samaritans was to their temple and worship is manifest from their refusing to Jesus Christ the rites of hospitality, which, in those early ages, were hardly ever refused, "because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem" (Luke ix. 52, 53.), and it appeared that he intended only to pass transiently through their territories without visiting their temple. Though greatly reduced in number, there are still some descendants of the Samaritans at Naplosa (the ancient Shechem), at Gaza, Damascus, and Grand Cairo. Among other peculiarities by which the Samaritans are distinguished from the Jews, besides those already mentioned, we may notice their admission of the divine authority of the Pentateuch, while they reject all the other books of the Jewish canon, or rather hold them to be apocryphal or of inferior authority; with the exception, perhaps, of the books of Joshua and Judges, which are also acknowl
As the way from Galilee to Judea lay through the country of the Samaritans, the latter often exercised acts of hostility against the Galileans, and offered them several affronts and injuries, when they were going up to their solemn feasts at Jerusalem. Of this inveterate enmity Josephus has recorded a very remarkable instance, which occurred during the reign of Claudius, (A. D. 52.); when the Samaritans made a great slaughter of the Galileans, who were travelling to Jerusalem through one of the villages of Samaria. (Josephus, Antiq. 1. xx. c. 6. § 12.)