Abbildungen der Seite

not ascribing our sufferings to the immediate providenee of God, but to a concatenation of causes in a political light.” The other party are such, as either through the length of the captivity, or the easy circumstances that they are in, and the splendid and voluptuous manner in which they live, neither look for not desire a restoration.

The Jews, since the destruction of their temple, have not offered any sacrifices ; and several religious rites, which were enjoined upon their ancestors, cannot be observed by the nation in modern times, on account of their being local, and con. fined to the promised land.

The modern Jews, however, still adhere as closely to the Mosaic dispensation as their dispersed condition will permit them. Their religious worship consists chiefly in reading the law and prophecies in their synagogues, together with a variety of prayers. As formerly, while they enjoyed an established religion, they still have liturgies, in which are all the prescribed forms of their synagogue worship ; “ and those who have not time to go to the synagogue must say their prayers at home three times every day, i, e. in the morning, in the afternoon, and at night." They repeat blessings and particular praises to God, not only in their prayers, but on all accidental occasions, and in almost all their actions. It is a rule among them that no day must be passed without reading a portion of the Jaw at home, nor any affair undertaken till they have implored the divine blessing. They are strictly prohibited from all vaio swearing, and pronouncing any of the names of God without necessity. They abstain from meats forbidden by the Levitical law; for which reason, whatever they eat must be dressed by those of their own nation, in a manner peculiar to them,


At the east end of every synagogue is an ark, or press, in cominemoration of the ark of the covenant, which was in the temple. Here the Pentateuch is deposited, written on a vol.

me or roll of parchment with the utmost exactness, and wrapped up in silk curiously embroidered. When the Jews say their prayers in the morning they put on a talith or vail over their other cłothes, and a robe with fringes at the four corners, with tassels, called Tzitzith ; and also the tephilin or phylacteries. “ It is an article of faith among us,” says David Levi, “ that every Jew must every morning, during the time of reading the Shema, and saying the nineteen prayers, at least, have on the phylacteries, because it is a sign of our acknowledging the Almighty to be the Creator of all things, and that he has power to do as he pleases ; and therefore on the sabbath, and other festivals, we do not put on the phylacteries, because the duly observing of them is a sufficient sign of itself, as expressed in Exodus xxxi. 12, 13.”

In the synagogue worship, the cohen or priest leads the devotional exercises by chaunting prayers ; but laymen are ad. mitted to read the book of the law to the people; the prece:

dence is, however, given to the priest. After prayers the rabbis frequently deliver a sermon.

The Jews venerate the sabbath above all other festivals, and observe it with the utmost strictness on account of its being enjoined in various parts of Scripture, particularly in the decalogue. On this day they are forbidden to kindle or extinguish any fire ; the food is, therefore, prepared on Friday. They are also prohibited from discoursing on any kind of business, from carrying any burden, from riding on horseback, in a carriage, going by water, or walking above a mile from the city or place where they reside, or playing upon any musical instrument. Vocal music is very common in their synagogues, but instrumental inusic is seldom used; yet not because it is deemed improper, for the synagogue in Prague had an organ ; but because it cannot be performed on the sabbath or holidays. They are likewise forbidden to inter their dead, or mourn, or fast on the sabbath ; but are sometimes permitted to circumcise a child, because that ceremony must be performed exactly on the eighth


The sabbath begins on Friday, an hour before sun-set, both suminer and winter, for they suppose the day commences from the preceding evening, according to Genesis i. 5, and “the evening and the inording were the first day.” As soon as the time arrives they leave all manner of work, and, having cleansed and decorated chemselves in honour of the holy day, repair to the evening service. The women are bound to light a lamp with seven cotton wicks, in remembrance of the days of the week, saying, “ Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God! King of the Universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and commanded us to ligbt the lamp of the sabbath.” The reason why this ceremony is invariably assigned to the women is, that as their original mother, by her crime in eating the forbidden fruit, first extinguished the lamp of righteousness, they are to make an atonement for that sin by rekindling it, in lighting the lamp of the sabbath.

They then spread a clean cloth upon their table, and set two loaves of bread upon it, baked on Friday, and covered with a napkin, in memory of the manna which fell, with dew under and above it, yet descended not (for on the Friday they had a double portion) on the sabbath. When they are placed at table the master of the family takes a cup of wine, repeating the three first verses in the 2d chapter of Genesis, and after giving God thanks, and enjoining them to observe the sabbath, he blesses the wine, drinks, and gives some to the rest of the family. He then hlesses and distributes the bread. They repeat the usual grace after supper, with the addition of making mention of the sabbath.

In the morning they repair to the synagogue later than usual on the week days, where, after the accustomed prayers, besides others which are appropriate to the day, they read a lesson from the law, and afterwards a corresponding portion from the prophets. When the reading is concluded, they pray for the peace and prosperity of the government under which they live, in observance of the direction in Jeremiah xxix. 7. Then the law is put into the ark. They then pray that God would be pleased to deliver them from captivity, and bring thema to the holy land, where they should be able to perform the offerings of the sabbath according to the law. After some other prayers the morning service is concluded.

The religious rites observed at dinner are similar to those used at supper. They frequently have sermons either in the morning or afternoon, the subject of which is taken from the lesson read that day in the Pentateuch. They make three meals on the sabbath, one on Friday evening and two the next day, in honour of the festival. On this holy day they beseech God to be inerciful, and grant them an inheritance in that day which is all sabbath and eternal rest; meaning the kingdom of the Messiah ; for they suppose that the world is to continue six thousand years, (according to the six days of the creation) and the seventh to be that of the Messiah. It is that which is bere alluded to, as being the day which is all an entire sabbath. In the evening, as soon as the stars appear, they suppose the sabbath is ended, and that it is lawful to do any work after they have attended the evening prayers at the synagogue.

The Jewish year is either civil, or ecclesiastical. The civil year commences in the month Tishri, or September. The Jews have a tradition that the world was created on the first day of this month, and from this epoch they compute the age of the world, and make use of this date in all their civil acts. The ecclesiastical year commences about the vernal equinox, in the inonth Nisan, which answers to part of March and April. All the religious rites and ceremonies are regulated by the ecclési. astical year. The Jews call the seventh month of the civil, the first of the ecclesiastical year, because at the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, it is enjoined, that “ this month shall be unto them the beginning of months, and the first month in the year."--Exodus xij. 2. On the first of every month they celebrate the feast of the new moon, praying God to restore them to the holy city, and erect the temple at Jerusalem, where they could render the offering for the feast according to the law. Numbers xxviii. 11.

On the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, the celebration of the passover commences, and immediately after the feast of unleavened bread : the whole includes eight days. On the evening preceding the festival, the first born of every family observes a fast, in remembrance of God's mercy in protecting the nation. During the whole of the feast the Jews are obliged to eat only unleavened bread, and refrain from servile labour. They begin the passover with carefully searching the house, and removing every thing which has had leaven in it. The two first and two last days are kept as strictly as the sabbath, only they permit fires to be kindled, and prepare food. As

they cannot now offer the paschal sacrifice, the passover cakes are placed on the table with some bitter herbs, and they eat a piece of unleavened bread instead of the paschal lamb. The festival concludes with psalms and thanksgiving to God for their great deliverance, and petitions that he would put a period to their captivity, and bring them to Jerusalem.

The feast of Pentecost commences seven weeks after the passover, hence it is called the feast of weeks. At present this festival is observed two days, during which time all servile labour is prohibited.

The feast of trumpets is observed on the first and second of Tishri, or September, the seventh of the ecclesiastical and first of the civil year ; hence the first of this month is called new year's day. They then pray for the protection of the government under which they reside, and blow the trumpet, which is made of a ram's born, saying, “ Blessed be thou, O Lord, our God! King of the Universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and commanded us to hear the sound of the trumpet.” After this ceremony, they repeat with a loud voice the following verse, “Happy are the people who hear the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance."

On the morning of the second day they repair to the synagogue, and repeat.nearly the same prayers as on the preceding day. They then read the 22d chapter of Genesis, which gives an account of Abraham's offering his son Isaac, and God's blessing him and his seed for ever. - For, according to their received tradition, that great event took place on that day. They, therefore, beseech the Almighty through the merits of this memorable event to bless them. After reading the law and prophets, they blow the trumpet, and pray as usual, that God would gather them from their dispersion, and conduct them to Jerusalem. ,

The feast of tabernacles is observed on the fifteenth of the month Tishri, and lasts nine days. Each person at the commencement of the festival erects an arbour, which is cov. ered with green boughs, and decked with a variety of orna. ments, in remembrance of their miraculous preservation in the wilderness. The two first and two last days are kept with great solemnity, but the intermediate time is not observed with equal strictness. On the first day they take branches of palm, myrtle, willow, and citron bound together, and go round the altar, or pulpit, singing psalms, because formerly, they used to perform this ceremony in the temple.

The Jews chiefly reside in their respective tabernacles during the feast, both night and day, if the weather will permit. At every meal, during seven days, they are obliged to repeat the following grace: “Blessed art thou, O Lord, our God! King of the Universe, who hast sanctified us with thy commandments, and commanded us to dwell in tabernacles.” During the feast they beseech the Lord to be mercifal, and erect for

them the tabernacle of David which is fallen ; and portions of the law and prophets are read in their synagogues.

On the seventh day of the festival, they take seven of the laws from out of the ark and carry them to the altar, and those who are possessed of the palm branch, &c., with the reader at their head, go seven times round the altar, in remembrance of the sabbatical years, singing the 29th Psalm. On the evening of this day the feast of solemn assembly cominences, which being a time of rejoicing, they assemble and entertain their friends : but are strictly enjoined not to do any servile labour. They read passages from the law and prophets, and entreat the Lord to be propitious to them, and deliver them from captivi. ty. On the ninth day they repeat several prayers in honour of the law, and bless God for his mercy and goodness in giving it to them by his servant Moses, and read that part of Scripture which makes mention of his death. After going to the synagogue in the evening, and saying the usual prayers, the festival is concluded.

On the fourteenth of Adar, or March, the Jews celebrate the feast of Purim, in commemoration of their deliverance from the destruction designed by Haman. This festival is observed two days, and derives its name from Esther ix. “ Therefore they called these days Purinn.” Previous to the feast, a solemn fast is observed in remembrance of Esther's fasting. The whole book of Esther, written on parchment, is repeatedly read during the feast ; and as often as the naine of Haman is mentioned, it is customary for the children (who have little wooden hammers) to knock against the wall, as a memorial that they should endeavour to destroy the race of Amelek. Part of the first day is spent in feasting and rejoicing, sending presents to each other, giving liberally to the poor, in visiting their friends, and entertaining them by all kinds of diversions.

The Jews, at the present day, obserre mnany festivals which are not appointed by Moses. In particular they celebrate the dedication of the altar, which was instituted by the Maccabees, in remembrance of the victory they obtained over Antiochus Epiphanes. This tyrant, having profaned the temple, reduced them to the necessity of cleansing and dedicating it anew. The festival is observed in a splendid manner, and lasts eight days; and is appointed to be kept by lighting lamps. The reason they assign for this ceremony is, that, after they had purified and dedicated the temple, there was only enough of pure oil left to burn one night, which miraculously lasted eight nights, till they were able to obtain a fresh supply.

The great day of expiation is observed by the Jews, though they have no high priest to officiate, nor temple wherein to offer the sacrifice. Before the fast commences, they think it a duty incumbent upon them to ask pardon of those they bave offended : to make restitution to those whom they have defrauded of any property ; to forgive those who have offended them ; and, in short, to do every thing which may serye 10

« ZurückWeiter »