Obrazy na stronie

temple and offerings of the first fruits.* In one instance, too, a Jew from beyond the Euphrates, not a native of Palestine, was made high-priest.f Jewish merchants and learned men from Galilee, as already related, visited Adiabene, through whose influence the royal family of that country were led to embrace Judaism. Many also from all the east resorted to Palestine, either temporarily or permanently, so that, as we are informed in the New Testament, “ there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men out of every nation under heaven;" that is, men of Jewish descent or proselytes, born in foreign lands and speaking the languages of their native countries. Among these were “ Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia ;” besides others from Judea, Asia Minor, Rome, Crete, Egypt, and Arabia. I

We have thus, as succinctly as possible, brought together all the Scripture-testimony bearing upon the captivity and return of the Israelites and Jews. We have seen, that after the various deportations out of the two kingdoms, the great body of the common people still remained in Palestine, where they became reunited as one nation in their public religious rites and worship at Jerusalem. The descendants of those carried away became in like manner amalgamated in the land of their exile. The permission to return was given alike to all; and so far as the testimony goes, no distinction of tribes was found among those who availed themselves of the opportunity. This distinction indeed was almost wholly laid aside; the name of Jews became as comprehensive as was formerly that of Hebrews; and the ten tribes, as such, were forgotten. ,

These views rest wholly on the evidence of Scripture; and appear to us satisfactory. Indeed, were it not for a single remark of Josephus, we should incline to regard them as unquestionable. That writer, in describing the return of Ezra, relates, that the decree of Artaxerxes was sent also to the Jews in Media,“ who were greatly rejoiced, and many of them taking up their possessions, came to Babylon, desiring to return to Jerusalem. But the whole mass (acós) of the Israelites remained in that region. So that it has happened, that two tribes are

[ocr errors]

* Joseph. Antiq. XV. 2. 2. XV. 3. 1.—Ibid. XVIII. 9. 1. Philo Opp. II. p. 578.

+ Ibid. XV. 2. 4. XV. 3. 1. | Acts 2: 5, 9, 10.

in Asia and Europe, subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates unto this day, infinite myriads of men, incapable of being estimated in numbers.”* In no other passage does the writer refer to the subject, nor does he afterwards make any allusion to the ten tribes.

This language of Josephus is susceptible of two interpretations. According to one, he may here mean by “the whole mass of the Israelites” the same people which he elsewhere always calls “ Jews sojourning beyond the Euphrates ;” of whom he also afterwards says there were“ not a few myriads.”+ But in that case it is difficult to see, why he should here speak of them in such extravagant terms, as infinite in multitude, beyond the power of estimate in numbers. According to this view, we here have, on the part of Josephus, the expression of an opinion, that the “ great mass” of the ten tribes remained in his day beyond the Euphrates; and that the whole of the Jewish nation in Palestine, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Europe, were descendants of the two tribes. On what authority was this opinion expressed ? The historian was writing more than eight hundred years after the Israelitish captivity, and some five hundred and fifty years after the return of Ezra. What were his documents ? They were either the same which we have now in the books of the Old Testament, or else tradition. But what is a tradition worth as to events occurring five centuries before, unless supported by other evidence ? and especially if contradicted by written documents? Now the testimony of the books of Scrip. ture, as we have seen, expressly contradicts this assertion of Josephus, and shows that after the captivity a great body of the ten tribes still remained in Palestine, and that many of them also returned out of the land of exile; so that the subsequent nation of the Jews, which became subject in Asia and Europe to the Romans, was composed, at least in a very considerable degree, of descendants of the ten tribes. Hence we must regard this assertion of Josephus as a mere conjecture of his own; in which, as in so many other instances, he has departed from the truth and distinctness of Scriptural history. As another. example, may be cited the fact, that he refers the decree in favor of Ezra to Xerxes, contrary to the express testimony of

* Joseph. Antiq. XI. 5. 2, nQua6ee & Epot, kai kouũ YY03ĩvai μη δυνάμεναι.

+ Ibid. XV. 3. 1.

be, since then he probably in this case it

Ezra himself ;* while he makes Ahasuerus to have been Artaxerxes Longimanus, in opposition to the strong evidence of the name, and also to the fact, that Artaxerxes is in Scripture called by this his own proper appellation.t

If again we follow another interpretation of this language of Josephus, he may mean by “ the whole mass of the Israelites” a different people from those whom he calls “ Jews sojourning beyond the Euphrates.” In this case it is difficult to say, precisely, whom he probably intended by these Israelites. It may be, since the nation of Israel was given over to captivity on account of its many idolatries,f that while the tender-hearted and pious among the captives returned in their captivity to the worship of the true God, and united themselves again with the Jews, the greater number still remained idolaters; and, to use the language of Prideaux, “soon going into the usages and idolatry of the nations among whom they were planted, (to which they were too much addicted while in their own land, after a while became wholly absorbed and swallowed up in them; and thence utterly losing their name, their language, and their memorial, were never after any more spoken of.”'S To such, Josephus might indeed conjecturally apply the exaggerated expressions above cited.

Or, it may be, that because the ten tribes, as such, had ceased to have a separate existence, the Jews of Palestine had come to regard themselves, in a national respect, as descended wholly from Judah and Benjamin; (so at least Josephus affirms, when he inaccurately says that only the two tribes were subject to the Romans;) and then the almost necessary inference to speculating minds would be, that the ten tribes were somewhere still existing beyond the Euphrates. Josephus may here mean something of the kind; for we know from other sources, that such speculations and fables respecting the ten tribes were already rife in the same age. In the apocryphal fourth book of Esdras, usually referred to the first century,ll we find the fol

* Joseph. Antiq. XI. 5. 1. Ezra 7: 1, 11, 12. + Jos. Ant. XI. 6. 1 seq.

† 2 K. 17: 7—23. § Prideaux's Connection, etc. I. p. 43.

1 The Esdras II. of the English Apocrypha. It is quoted in the Epistle of Barnabas; which latter is ascribed by Lardner and others to the first century. Compare Fabric. Cod. Pseudep. V. T. II. pp. 183, 184.

lowing passage relating to events seen in vision : “ These are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Osea the king, whom Salmanasar king of Assyria led away captive; and he carried them over the waters, and so they came into another land. But they took this counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt, that they might keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land. And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow passages of the river. For the Most High showed signs for them, and held still the flood, till they were passed over. For through that country there was a great way to go, namely, of a year and a half; and the same region is called Arsareth. Then dwelt they there until the latter time."* This is the famous passage, which serves as a foundation for the theory of those who still find the ten tribes upon the continent of America. It proves at least the point for which we have cited it, viz. that in the age of Josephus speculations and fables were already afloat respecting the ten tribes, showing that the historical facts of the case had already been forgotten.

Thus then, whatever sense we may assign to this isolated passage of Josephus, there is nothing in it of sufficient weight to counterbalance the direct and tolerably full testimony of the sacred writers.

In the beginning of the fifth century, Jeroine also speaks of the ten tribes as “unto this day subject to the kings of Persia, and their captivity has never been loosed.”+ This assertion may be explained like that of Josephus; and indeed was probably borrowed from the language of that writer; of whose works Jerome

* 4 Esdr. 13:40~46. Dr. Grant has wholly misapprehended this passage, although he speaks of "a careful comparison of this account with the original;” p. 251. The original, by the way, is lost; the earliest copy extant is the Latin version. The idea of the writer doubtless was, that in going “ forth into a further country,” the tribes passed from Mesopotamia northwards along the narrow passages of the Euphrates. Of these we heard much in 1839, while they were occupied by the Turkish army before the battle of Nizib.

+ Hieron. Comm. in Hos. c. 1. Opp. ed. Mart. Tom. III. col. 1242.

made frequent use. It is also not impossible that, in his day, the learned and speculating Jews of Tiberias ( whence Jerome had his teacher) may have been led, in their own self-complacency, to regard the Jews still living in those distant regions, as descended from the ten tribes, in order to make out for them a rank and ancestry inferior to their own. But how little ground there was for this assertion, we have already seen.

We rest therefore in the conclusion, that during and after the captivity, the twelve tribes had again become united into one people, both in Palestine and throughout the countries of their dispersion. They were now the later Jews. .

The bearing of this discussion upon the theory of Dr. Grant is obvious. We have endeavored to show before, that neither from their customs, their language, their tradition, nor their country, can the Nestorians be proved to be of Hebrew lineage; and if we have now succeeded in showing, that in the age of Christ the ten tribes, as such, no longer had a separate existence, then a fortiori the Nestorians cannot well be the descendants and representatives of any lost tribes. We have entered into the discussion, not in reference to the position of Dr. Grant alone; but because the results to which we have come, if wellfounded, may serve to put an end to much useless speculation and bald hypothesis in respect to this whole subject.

In the age of the apostles, Mesopotamia and the countries further east were indeed full of Hebrews; but they were now all Jews. They had already lived together and been amalgamated for more than five hundred years; and it is in vain now to say, that in one part the element of the ten tribes predominated more, and in another part less. Even the Jews of the celebrated schools at Babylon in the fifth and sixth centuries, who boasted that they were of the purest and noblest blood of the captivity, of the lineage of David, purer and nobler than that which returned to Jerusalem, had doubtless no better ground for the assertion, than the self-complacency of an overweening vanity.* -Among this multitude of Jews in the apostolic age, as well as among their Gentile neighbors, very many were converted to Christianity, and many churches were gathered. The apostle Peter himself, and his beloved Mark, appear to have visited Babylon.t Among these churches, composed

* Lightfoot Horae Hebr. in Ep. 1. ad Corinth. Addenda c. 2. Opp. II. p. 930.

+ 1 Pet. 5: 13.

« PoprzedniaDalej »