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word chorea or choir, which the Latins have taken from the Greeks, and which signified with them, a company of dancers clothed and decked cout in the same manner. They sang together, and danced in a ring, being sorted according to their age and sex, young men and maids, old men and wives, without mixing one with the other. Now, it is not to be supposed that the Hebrew dances were less modest.-Choirs are mentioned at the procession which David made to carry the ark into Sion, and upon occasion of several victories, where it is said that the maidens came out of the cities dancing and singing. *
I do not perceive that the Israelites had any public schools, or that the young men went from their father's house to study. Their laborious way of living did not admit of it. Their fathers had occasion for their assistance in their work, and brought them up to it from their childhood. So the word school, in Greek, signifies leisure, as being the place where such people met, who, having no urgent business, endeavoured to amuse themselves in an innocent manner: and the Latin word ludus, which signifies play, conveys the same idea. I imagine, then, that their learning was chiefly acquired from the conversation of their fathers and old men, without much reading or regular lessons.
Parents were obliged to inform their children of the great things God had done for them and their fathers: and upon that account, the law commanded them so often to explain the reasons of their feasts and other religious ceremonies.
.* Sam. vi. 5, 14, 15. + Deut. vi. 7, 20.
These instructions, thus joined to sensible objects, and so frequently repeated, could not fail of having their due weight. They taught them, besides, every thing relating to husbandry, add. ing continual practice to their lessons. And we cannot doubt of their being very expert in it, considering that for so many ages it was their sole employment. Now, though this art be followed amongst us, by dull people, that seldom reflect upon any thing, it nevertheless contains a great extent of knowledge, much more useful to mankind than that speculative sort which is reckoned learning. And though we were to allow nothing to be science, but what we find in books, both the antients and moderns have written sufficient on this subject to recommend it to our esteem.
An Israelite, therefore, who, by the tradition of his fathers, by his own experience, and some reading, was instructed in his religion, the laws that he was to regulate his life by, and the history of his own nation, who knew how to provide himself with all the necessaries of life, who thoroughly understood the nature of different soils, and the plants that are proper for them, the mes thod and time to be observed in planting them, what precautions are to be taken against the several accidents that destroy the fruits of the earth, how they are to be gathered and preserved; who understood the nature of cattle, how they are to be fed, the distempers they are liable to, with the cure of them, and many other things of the same kind, which most of those that reckon themselves men of breeding and letters know nothing of; this honest Israelite, methinks,
would be full as valuable a man, as one bred in our inns-of-court, exchequer, or in the wrangle of the schools. For it must be owned, that in these latter ages curious studies have been too far divided from those that are useful; the cultivation of the mind, and the improvement of the manners, from a due regard to one's business and health. Most of those who are so solicit, ous about their intellects, take too little care of their persons, and become unfit for action and bodily labour. Nay, many grow so effeminate, by giving themselves to music, poetry, and other studies of a curious nature, that, with a very high opinion of their fine genius and pretended merit, they lead an inactive and despi, cable life.
There were, howeyer, some Israelites that applied themselves particularly to study, and may be called learned men, according to our own ideas. It is said, that in David's time there were men in the tribe of Issachar who lead understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do.* And commentators say that they observed the stars, to regulate the feasts and the whole course of the year by them. The prophet Malachi says of priests in general, that Their lips should keep knowledge, and that they should seek the law at their mouth. One of their chief functions therefore was to teach the law of God in the meetings which were held in eyery city on the sabbath-day, and which the Greeks called synagogues or churches, I for both
* 1 Chron, xii. 32.
Orig. cont. Cels, 1. is.
* Malachi ij. 7.
words 'signify almost the same thing. Other learned men were appointed to speak there too, especially such as were acknowledged to be prophets, inspired by God. These were the public schools of the Israelites, where they did not teach curious knowledge, but religion and good manners; where they did not instruct children only, and some particular persons who had nothing else to do, but the people in general. Such were the Schools of the Prophets at Naioth in Ramah, where Samuel presided, i Sam. xix. 19, 20, &c. and at Bethel, where Elijah and Elisha gave public instructions.
None but the priests and prophets undertook to compose, especially history.* It was the same in Egypt. Their priests renounced all worldly affairs. They led a very serious and retired life, wholly employed in the service of the gods, and the study of wisdom. They spent the day in the offices of religion, and the night in mathematical contemplations, for so they called the study of the heavens. None but they wrote history. So the most antient Roman histories were the annals of their high-priests. .
We see in Scripture history the character of their authors. It appears that they were very serious and very wise men; old, and of great experience, and well informed of what passed. There is neither vanity, nor flattery, nor affectation in them to shew their wit: whereas all these foibles are to be discovered in the Greeks, every one of whom had liberty to write, and most of them aimed at nothing but their own
* Joseph. cont. App. i. c. 2.
glory, or that of their nation. The Hebrew his. torians do not set down their own names, nor do they ever conceal any circumstance that ap: pears disadvantageous to themselves, or their sovereigns. They that wrote the history of David have been as particular in the account of his greatest crime as in any of his most righteous actions.
They make neither preface nor transition, they only relate facts in as clear a manner as possible, without any mixture of reasoning or reflections. But if we examine well, we shall find that they chose their facts, which are proper for their purpose, with wonderful judgment, and this makes their stories very short; though, upon important occasions, they enter into the most exact detail, and set the action before the reader's eyes in very lively colours. It is plain they leave out reflections and exaggerations on purpose, by their knowing so well how to apply them in discourses where they have a mind to work upon the passions. So Moses, in Deuteronomy, makes use of the strongest and most expressive figures to magnify and expatiate upon what he had only plainly related in the preceding books. Thus the prophet Isaiah barely relates the defeat of Sennacherib,* after having exaggerated, when he foretold it, in a.style that is truly poetical,
The Hebrews were not less to be admired in all their other ways of writing. Their laws are written with clearness and brevity. Their maxims of morality are contained in short sen