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into that Countrey, (Yoh. xxiv. 2.) when God called him to leave Ur of the Chaldees, and
go into Palestine. Laban who lived in Mefopotamia long after was certainly no Idolater, nor the Arabians who lived in the Neighbourhood. of Job. It is very probable that Ishmael's Family would preferve at least, if not propagate the Worship of the true God in those Parts of Arabia where they settled. He was not unknown to Balak and Balaam, who lived several Ages after, though they did not worship him as they ought. And, if what Doctor Hyde says be true”, (and he was admirably versed in all the Learning of the East, even of its remotest Regions) the ancient Persians worshipped the God of Heaven and Earth, though with a great Mixture of Superstition, and never were Idolaters, as neither are the small Remainders of them, who are preserved to this Day. That Japhet's Offspring who were spread, according to Noah's Prophecy, to the North and the West did fo too for several Ages I do not Question, though the History of the European Nations is very lame for a long while after the Dispersion. This therefore was a great and a wise Reason, why a good and a merciful God should oblige Men to separate, who would otherwise much fooner have compleated the Measure of their Iniquity, had they kept together, which, had there been but one Language,
9 In Historia Religionis veterum Perfarum.
they might have been tempted to do. By this Attempt of theirs they shew'd their Vanity and their Pride: The Dispersion effectually humbled them. That, though a Judgment, and a great one too, seems therefore to have been inAicted in Mercy, for the Ends already mentioned, and also to keep up the Fear and Worship of God longer among them, when they were thus parted, than it would have been, had they been ftill suffered to live together.
But here I expect to be told that the Time between the Flood and the Birth of Phaleg was much too short to raise such a Number of People, as would, when parted, have been subdivided into Colonies, both numerous and populous enough for such a Purpose: For if there had not been sufficient Numbers out of that Company to form themselves into Colonies, that could understand one another, they could not have afforded nor received such a mutual Affistance, as was absolutely necessary for Men who were to look out for new Habitations in a favage and an unpeopled World. And a hundred Years, which is all the Time that the Hebrew Account allows, even notwithstanding the Promise that was made to Noah, and his Seed after the Flood, that they Thould increase and multiply, (Gen, xix. 7.) can hardly be supposed to have been sufficient. Isaac Vofíus, a Writer above any Character that I can give him, says positively, that unless we thould suppose that Men sprouted like
Gourds, and could beget Children at twelve Years of Age or sooner, the common Computation which we follow in our Bibles would not be sufficient r.
You, Sir, will, I know, not be shocked at this Proposition. But since others may, who know nothing but what they read in our Englis Bibles, and since the Thing it self is of Moment, I shall beg Leave to set it in a clear Light.
Now the Case is this. We have three Copies of the Pentateuch extant, which are all older than Christ
. Two written in Hebrew, and one Translation from the Hebrew. Those that are written in Hebrew, are the Hebrew Copy commonly so called, and the Samaritan, which differs from the other only in this, that it is written in the Samaritan Character, which
Jam vero quis credat-Turris Babylonicae constructionem, confufionem Linguarum, ac difperfionem Gentium factam efle vix uno poft Diluvium elapso fæculo? Ex sacris Literis manifeste hoc Tempus colligitur, inde enim nomen inditum Phalego. Atqui tum forsan necdum tertius Noacho natus erat Heres. Huic difficultati ut nonnulli occurrerent, miram commenti sunt methodum, ad multiplicandum brevi spatio genus humanum: Primos namque post Diluvium Patriarchas tam foecundos fuiffe dicunt, ut Anno Aetatis duodecimo, vel etiam prius, liberis gignendis operam dederint. Sed fane etiamfi concedatur eos cucurbitarum inftar pullulaffe, non tamen efficient, ut haec computandi ratio non fit prorsus, ridicula. IJ. Volii Dissert de Aetate Mundi, p. 257. See also his Answer to Schotanus, p. 420, 421.
is the Character that the Jews used when they lived in their Countrey, before they were carried into Babylonia by Nebuchadnezzar. After the Jews returned under Ezra, they had no Communication with the Samaritans, who had their Copies of that Law from those Jews who taught them at first, when they were planted in the Regions of Samaria by , Salmanassar. This is plain from the New Testament. (John iv.9) Consequently then, since their Copy differs from the Jewish no otherwise than what common Varieties of Readings will account for, we have an additional Strength added to those. Readings, in which theirs and the Hebrew Copy agree. The Greek Copy, which was translated by LXX Jewish Interpreters in the , Time of Ptolemee Philadelphus, is above wo hundred Years older than Christ
. And the Hebrew Copy which we now commonly use, is that which was preserved by the Jews after the Destruction of Jerusalem, and the Difpersion of that Nation by Titus. This Copy was not only not taken from the LXX, but the Authority of that venerable Greek Translation (which till Titus's Time was received by the Jews, and quoted by them
all Occafions, as we still fee in the Writings of Philo Judaeus and I fephus) has been opposed by the Rabbins ever since, who adhere very superstitiously to the Letter of their Hebrew Copy. We may be sure then, that in every Text where all the thrce Copies agree, we have the true
Reading, since it is confirmed by three different Copies which are all supported by different Bodies of Men, who adhere each to their own Copy in Contradistinction to the other
The Jews absolutely reject the Copy of the Samaritans, whom they look upon as Cuthim, i. e. Descendents of Cush, and Minim, i. e. Heretics. Nor will the Samaritans receive theirs. The ancient Christians every where till St. Hierom's Time, and the Greek Church to this Day quote the Version of the LXX as the authentic Text, as did also the Apostles and Writers of the New Testament. If then where all three Copies agree, we are fure of three Witnesses to the reading of any Text; where two agree, there is a Probability of two Witnesses (where all have an equal Claim to Credibility) against one.
Now both the Samaritan Copy, and the Translation of the LXX Interpreters join in lengthening the Lives of the Patriarchs after the Flood several Hundreds of Years more, than what the Jewish Copy (from which our Bibles are translated) allows them. So that, whereas according to the Hebrew there are but a Hundred and one Years between the Flood and the Birth of Phaleg ; according to the LXX there are five Hundred and thirty one Years. The Samaritan Copy expunges the second Cainan, and cuts off five Years from Arphaxad's Age, before he begat Children. That takes off a Hundred thirty five Years. So that