« PreviousContinue »
that any people, who obeyed these seven precepts, though they received not circumcision, might dwell among the Israelites, and sojourn in their land:-1 presume, they are mistaken.
This I argue, 1. From the sixth of these preceris, to have judgment, or punishment for malefactors. Or, in other words, inagistracy, for restraining excesses, inconsistent with the peace of society, and for punishing delinquents
. How can any learned Christians suppose, that uncircumcised 'Gentiles were required, or allowed to have magistracy in the land of Israel? Nay, it cannot be supposed, that proselytes, or men circumcised after the law of Moses, living in the land of Israel, had magistrates of their own. Whilst the Jewish people were sui juris, their own masters, all civil privileges, in their country, were appropriated to the descendants of Jacob. The case was quite different afterwards when they were subject to the Romans, and especially, when they were reduced to the state of a Roman province: as they were after the removal of Archelaus, not many years after our Saviour's nativity.
Indeed, God was the law-giver, and the king of the Jewish people. He governed them after the death of Moses, first by judges, then by kings, of his own appointment: who were to govern the people committed to their charge, according to the laws, which himself had delivered by the hand of Moses.
2. It seems to me to be probable, that according to the law of Moses, no uncircumcised men could reside, or be stated inhabitants in the land of Israel. Or, as I expressed it some while
• It seems to me, that none but proselytes, or circumcised men, had the privilege of a settled abode, or residence there, that is, to sojourn in the land. However, I think, there 'must have been an exception for travellers passing through the country, even though they
were idolaters, and also for some, whose traffic was needful, and therefore allowed. As Patrick says upon Deut. xiv. 21. There were some, called Nocherim, which we translate aliens: who • were mere Gentiles, and not suffered to have an habitation among them, but only to come and go in their traffic among them.'
I shall now argue this point more distinctly from divers considerations.
In the first place, I argue it from the law of circumcision, as delivered to Abraham. For, as our Saviour himself said to the Jews of his time, “ circumcision is not of Moses, but of the fathers." John vii. 22. The original law is in Gen. xvii. 11–14. “ And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin. And it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and thee. And he that is eight days old, shall be circumcised among you. Every man-child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money, must needs be circumcised. And my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant: and the uncircumcised man-child, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people. He has broken my covenant."
Afterwards ver. 23. “ And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house: and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin, in the self-same day, as God had commanded him.” And see what follows to the end of ver. 27.
That is the law, which God gave to Abraham, and Moses afterwards delivered to the children of Israel, when they were multiplied, and were become a nation.
And the institution of the passover is to this purpose. Ex. xii. 43, 44. “ This is the ordinance of the passover. There shall no stranger eat thereof.” In the Heb. • Every son of the • stranger shall not eat thereof.' Gr. nuç znacyevus. • But every man's servant that is bought with
money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.' And ver. 48. “ When a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. And then let him come near, and keep it.”
Such laws must have made circumcision very general in that country.
When the oppression, which the Jewish people had laboured under, in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, was abated, and Mattathias had come out of his retirement • and had got a number of men about him; it is said, 1 Macc. ii. 15, 46. “ Then Mattathias, and his friends, went round about, and pulled down the altars. And what children soever they found within the coast of Israel uncircumcised, those they circumcised valiantly:" that is, resolutely, strenuously, without scruple, being persuaded, that they had a right so to clo.
& See Vol. III. ch. xviii. sect. II.
• See Prideaux Conn. year before Christ 105. vol. II. p. 182.
Hyrcanus having conquered the Idumeans, in the year before Christ, one hundred and twenty-nine, as • Josephus says, · He permitted them to remain in the country, if they consented * to be circumcised, and to observe the Jewish laws; which they engaged to do, rather than • leave their country: and from that time they became Jews.'
Afterwards, in the year before Christ, one hundred and six. Aristobulus, as we also · learn from · Josephus, having subdued the Itureans, added a large part of their country to Judea, and obliged the inhabitants
, if they would stay in that country, to be circumcised, and * to live according to the laws of the Jews.
I suppose, that this was done, because those countries were reckoned to be part of the land, which God had given to the children of Israel.
Seventhly. What has been just said under the foregoing particular, must needs render it probable, that by “ the stranger, the stranger within thy gates, the stranger that sojourneth with thee,” so often mentioned in the law of Moses, and other books of the Old Testament, are meant proselytes, men circumcised after the law of Moses.
Nevertheless I shall here farther add some other proof, which may be reckoned more particular and positive. The argument, which I now aim at is this. The same religious ordinances are given to the children of Israel, and to the strangers sojourning among them, and under the same penalties.
Lev. xvii. 8-10. “ And thou shalt say unto them: Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering, or a sacrifice: and bringeth it not to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the Lord, even that man shall be cut off from among his people. And whatever man there shall be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood, I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.” Ver. 13. “ And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth, and catcheth any beast, or fowl, that may be eaten, he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.” Ver. 15, 16. “ And every soul that eateth that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether he be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. Then shall he be clean. But if he wash not himself, nor bathe his flesh, then he shall bear his iniquity.”
I'might add other texts. But these appear to be sufficient. These prohibitions are delivered equally to the children of Israel, and to strangers that sojourned with them. And the penalty of transgression is that of being “ cut off from his people.” Therefore this sojourning stranger was one, who had joined himself to the house of Israel, or the Jewish people, by circumcision. Otherwise he could not have been cut off from them. I do not now quote any more places at length. But I would refer to Numb. xv. 13-16, and 25-31.
Eighthly. If observing the above-mentioned precepts of the sons of Noah qualified men to reside in the land of Israel: I presume, it must have been lawful for Jews to converse with them: and that they might do so, without contracting any legal impurity.
Nevertheless St. Peter was shy of conversing with Cornelius of Cesarea. When he came to his house, he told him, and his company, “they knew, how it was an unlawful thing, for a man that is a Jew, to keep company, or come unto one of another nation.” Acts x. 28. And when St. Peter was come back to Jerusalem, “ they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying: Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them," ch. xi. 2, 3.
Of that centurion it is said, “ that he feared God, with all his house, that he gave much alms to the people, and that he prayed to God always.” Cornelius therefore was not a transgressor of any of the precepts of the sons of Noah.
of the sons of Noah. He was not an idolater, nor a blasphemer, nor unjust and rapacious: nor did he indulge himself in the practice of abominable filthiness. And yet, we see, from authentic evidence, that it was not lawful for a Jew to converse with him. Indeed, he lived at Cæsarea, a part of the land of Israel. But so did many idolaters, at that time, under the Romans. It was not then in the power of the Jews to exclude any men, who were admitted by their masters.
• Prid. as before, p. 307.
• Prid. p. 370.
Antiq. I. 13. cap. xi. 3.
Antiq. I. 13. c. ix. sect. 1.
Once more, ninthly, the seven precepts of Noah, or the sons of Noah, can afford no help for explaining the regulations of the council at Jerusalem. For there is no resemblance between them. Nor have they any relation to each other. The Noachic precepts are all of the moral kind, as was shown just now: those of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem, are, all of them, things indifferent, as will be shown hereafter.
And, if the seven precepts of Noah are an invention of modern Jews: as some learned men of the best understanding have argued: it is great pity, that so much regard has been shown to them by Christians, who profess a zeal for truth, and are desirous to know the right interpretation of the scriptures. Though they are pompously called precepts of Adam and Noah, as if they had been delivered to the first man that lived on this earth, and to hiia who escaped the deluge, from whom all who have since lived on this earth are descended: they are, in this system and collection, a modern invention, and were unknown to Christ's apostles. We might as well attempt to explain the scriptures by the decrees of the council of Trent, or the synod of Dort, as the apostolic decree by these seven precepts.
III. THAT THERE WAS BUT ONE SORT OF JEWISH PROSELYTES. I have spoken my mind concerning the Noachic precepts. I should now proceed to consider the first question, proposed by our Author at the head of this Dissertation. To whom the apostolic decree was directed. But this question I have answered formerly. It was directed to all Gentile converts what
The letter is inscribed Acts xv. 23. “ to the brethren, which are of the Gentiles in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia." To them the Epistle was inscribed, to them it was sent, and to them it was delivered by the messengers, who carried it from Jerusalem. And afterwards. Acts xvi. 1-1. When Paul and Silas left Antioch, “ they came to Derbe, and Lystra-And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees to keep, that were ordained by the apostles and elders, which were at Jerusalem.” And that the decree was designed for all Gentiles, appears from the words of St. James, who proposed it: ver. 19. “ Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God.” And long after this, when St. Paul was come again to Jerusalem, the same James, the residing apostle in that city, says to him, ch. xxi. 25. “ As touching the Gentiles, which believe, we have written, and concluded.”
And from the beginning all Christians every where, for a good while, supposed themselves to be bound by them, and did observe them, as we know from many ancient authors still extanti But since the fourth century, they have been little regarded by those Christians, who used the Latin tongue.
Moreover, I did formerly allege a passage of Mr. Hallett, arguing very clearly, and strongly to the like purpose.
I did likewise at that time argue, that there never were, in ancient times, among the Jews, two sorts of proselytes; and that all those men, who, in the Old Testament, are called proselytes, or strangers, or strangers within thy gates, were men circumcised. I have here added more arguments to the same purpose in the observations upon the Noachic precepts.
I must therefore entreat those learned men, who say, the regulations of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem were sent to uncircumcised Gentiles, whom they call proselytes of the gate, to give some better proof, that there were such men, than they have yet done. Otherwise, i inust still think their scheme chimerical, and without foundation.
They are the more obliged to do this, because upon many other occasions, they bring in those half-proselytes, in their explications of the scriptures.
· I desire the reader to look back to p. 495, note b. I add here the judgments of others.
Mihi dubiæ sublestæque fidei videtur quidquid Judæi de his Noachidarum præceptis, eorumque antiquitate et origine tradant-Nam si Adamo in paradiso, vel Noachi filiis, fuerunt mandata; cur de iis in sacris literis, et Josephi scripris, est silentium? D. Salom. Deyling. Observation. Sacrar. P. secund. &c. Obser. 99. sect. ix. p. 465. &c.
-peregrinus tuus, qui in portis tuis.'] LXX. Int. ο προσηλυτος ο παροικων εν σοι. Notum quidem est, quid Rabbini de proselytis sentiant, quidve olim ab Hebræis vetc
ribus ex iis postulatum fuisse existiment. Sed cum multa aut prorsus fingunt, aut ex sui ævi moribus judicent, tutum non est iis omnia credere. Cleric, in Ex. xx, 10.
* And indeed the modern Rabbins are of small authority • in all such matters of remote antiquity. Whiston, note? upon Josephus, of the Jewish War, B. VI. ch. v. 3,
b See Vol. III. ch. xviii.
• See the chapter of St. Cyprian, before referred to, vol. II.
d See vol. III. ch. xyiii..
To call any uncircumcised men Jewish proselytes, as our learned author does here, though such men are never called proselytes in the New Testament: nor, as I think, in the Old : is unwarrantable, and unbecoming men, who profess to be inquirers after truth. »
An uncircumcised proselyte appears to me to be as truly an impropriety, and contradiction, as an uncircumcised Jew. For a proselyte is a Jew by religion, though not by birth. I am arguing with my late learned friend whose Dissertations are before me.
But I ought to be understood to argue with all others, who liave adopted the same sentiment.
It is not to be expected, that I should repeat here what I said formerly. But, if I could contribute any thing farther toward clearing up this point, I should willingly add a few more observations.
I then said. • I did not believe, that the notion of two sorts of Jewish proselytes can be • found in any Christian writer, before the fourteenth century, or later.'
I shall now add. I cannot at present say certainly, which is the most ancient commentator, in whom I have met with it: whether Cardinal Cajetan, or Alphonsus Tostatus, or another. For I cannot now refer to the place. I either made no written extract, or have lost it. But I well remember to have read in some commentator about their times, this observation. Some say, there were two sorts of Jewish proselytes; but it is a mistake. There was but one. That is proof, that the notion of two sorts of proselytes was then embraced by some.
But though I cannot now say, where I met with that observation; I have by me divers extracts made from Alphonsus Tostatus, who “ flourished in the fifteenth century, and died in the year 1454. From which extracts it appears, that himself acknowledged but one sort of Jewish proselytes, and that by “strangers within their gates, and sojourners," he understood men circumcised, who had embraced the Jewish religion.
Upon Exodus ch. xii. he says, “A native is he, who was born in the Hebrew religion, having a Hebrew father. A sojourner is one, who comes from Gentilism into the Jewish religion.” Upon Exodus xx. explaining the fourth commandment, he says,
• That' by
'by“ strangers • within thy gates” are meant converts from Gentilism to Judaism. They also must observe • the sabbath. They dwell within thy gates, that is, within the gates of thy cities.'
Upon Matt. xxiii. 15. he says. Proselyte & denotes a man converted to Judaism. The • Jewish people consisted of two parts. Some were Jews by ancient descent, and were called
children of Israel: others were converted from among the nations to Judaism. And these * were called by three names, sojourners, strangers, and proselytes. Those two divisions are
very common in the books of Moses : “the children of Israel, and the strangers that sojourn • among you:” particularly in the seventeenth chapter of Leviticus: that is, such as were Jews
by birth, or such as were converted to Judaism. So also Ezek. xiv. 1. Every one of the • house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, • and setteth up his idols in his heart.” It is evident, that by the stranger is meant a proselyte, · who had been converted to God. Otherwise he could not be separated from him.'
I have transcribed but a small part of his notes upon Matt. xxiii. 15. which are large, and well deserve to be read by such as have opportunity. So far as I am able to judge, he always
a Dr. Ward is not alone in this way of speaking. daïsmum. Et isti sunt intra portas tuas, id est, intra portas Dr. Hammond's paraphrase of Acts x. 2. in Le Clerc's civitatum tuarum. In Ex. xx. Qu. xiv. Latin version is thus: Hic Cornelius erat Judaïcæ religionis 6 Dicendum est, quod proselytus denotat hominem conproselytus licet circumcisus non esset. I do not see, how versum ad Judaïsmum. Judæi autem distinguebantur in any men of judgment and candour can approve of this. For duo, quia quidam ex origine primâ erant Judæi; et isti vocaa paraphrast ought not to add to the original. See by all bantur filii Israël. Alii erant conversi de Gentibus ad Judameans Dr. Doddridge's note b upon that text.
ismum; et isti vocabantur tribus nominibus, sc. advenæ, bo See Vol. III. ch. xviii.
peregrini, et proselyti. Et ista duo nomina sunt multum c The same.
usitata in libris Moysis ; sc. homo de filiis Israëlis et de adSee Du Pin, and Morery.
venis, qui peregrinantur inter vos. Lev. xvii. id est, sive sit e Indigena dicitur, qui in Hebræorum ritu natus est, quia de Judæis ex genere, sive de illis qui conversi fuerunt ad Jue patrem Hebræuin babebat. Colonus dicitur, qui ad colen- daïsmum. Ezech. xiv. Homo de domo Israël, et de prosedum verum Deum transit, ad ritum Judaïcam veniens de lytis, quicumque advena fuerit in Israël, si alienatus fuerit a Gentilitate. In Ex. cap. xii. Qu. lviii. T. II. p. 160. E. me, et posuerit idola sua in corde suo. Ex quo apparet, Colon. Agrip. 1613.
quod erat jam conversus ad Deum, qui proselytus est, quia rAdvena, qui est intra portas tuas.] Id est, etiam obser- alias non potuit a Deo alienari, &c. Io Matt. cap. xxiii. vabunt diem Sabbati adyenæ de Gentilitate conversi ad Ju. Qu. 87. p. 325.
speaks agreeably to the true tenour of the Mosaic law, and is altogether unbiassed by modern Rabbinical interpretations.
I cannot say, whether Erasmus was acquainted with the notion of two sorts of proselytes, or not. He speaks very judiciously in his comment upon Matt. xxiii. 15. Where he
Where he says: • Proselyte · is a Greek word, equivalent to stranger. For so the Hebrews called those, whom they • received from other nations into communion with them.'
Philip Melancthon also was a learned man. He was born in 1497, and died in 1560. I think, we may be positive, that he knew nothing of any proselytes, but such as were circumcised, and thereby obliged to observe all the ritual ordinances of the law of Moses. His comment upon Matt. xxiii. 15. is very observable. And I shall transcribe it.
· Here you may learn, that God had a church at all times, even among the Gentiles. And • in the times of the kingdom of Israel and Judah there were three states of men, who were ( members of the church.
• The first state were the seed of Abraham. Those were to be çircumcised, and to keep the ceremonies according to the law of Moses.
• The second state was that of the proselytes, that is, strangers, who were not of the seed of • Abraham, but yet were willing to be a part of that people, and were willing to be circumcised. • These, because they were willing to be circumcised, were bound to observe all the other ceremonies. Of this number was Urias.
• The third state are such as in the Acts are called religious men, that is, Heathens, as • Naaman the Syrian, Nabuchodonosor, Cyrus, Cornelius, and many others, who learned the * promises concerning the coming of the Messiah, and the doctrine concerning the true God, and concerning good works, agreeably to the decalogue. These were not circumcised, nor did they observe the Mosaic ceremonies.'
So writes Melancthon, and, as I think, according to the sense of all Christian writers of the first twelve centuries, and later.
I shall not proceed any lower in the inquiry, when that opinion, which now prevails so much, had its first rise among Christians.
But I shall proceed in my argument.
The word, proselyte, occurs four times in the books of the New Testament. · Matt. xxiii. 15. Acts ii. 10. ch. vi. 5. and ch. xiji. 43. I suppose it to be universally allowed by learned men, that in the first three texts by proselyte is intended a man circumcised after the manner of Moses. Nor do I know, that there is any doubt about the fourth and last text. And the place was so understood by d ancient Christian writers. And among the moderns Grotius is very clear, that “ hereby are intended proselytes, or as he calls them, after the now prevailing custom, and to prevent mistake, proselytes of righteousness.
However, as this text is somewhat particular, I shall consider it distinctly. “ Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes, followed Paul and Barnabas, who speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. των σεβομεvwy igoondutw. I know, that by celousvoi, in this place, Dr. Ward did not understand a religious
Proselytus Græca vox est, mopoona.utus, nobis advena.' bant cæremonias Mosaïcas. Melancthon. in Matt. T. III. Sic enim dicebatur Hebræis, quem ex alienâ natione in suæ p. 545. Witteb. 1563. legis consortium receperant. Erasm.
• The note of Lucas Brugensis upon Matt. xxiii. 15. is so • Hic discatis, quod Deus omni tempore sibi colligit eccle- neat, and pertinent, that I shall put it down here. • Prosesiam, etiam ex gentibus. Ac tempore regni Israël et Juda, ólytum.'] Græca vox est, Latine sonans advenam,' quem erant tres status hominum, qui erant membra ecclesiæ. Hebræi efferunt Ger, quâ significant eum, quem ex alienâ
Primus status erat semen Abrahæ. Hic oportuit circun- natione in suæ legis consortium adduxerint: qui a Gentilitate cidi, et servare cæremonias juxta legem Mosis.
ad Judaismum adductus est, non natione Judæus, sed adopSecundus status erat proselytorum, id est, advenarum, qui tione factus, ac in Legis Mosaïcæ fædera acceptus; quasi non erant nati ex semine Abrahæ, sed tamen volebant esse dicas adventitium ad religionem, quod opponitur Judæo nato. pars hujus populi, et volebant circumcidi. Hi, quia volebant
Luc. Brug. circumcidi, debebant etiam servare alias cæremonias, ut d 'Secuti sunt multi Judæorum, et colentium advenarum.'] Urias.
-Significat eos, qui naturâ gentiles erant, sed religione Tertius status erat, qui in Actis vocantur viri religiosi, id Judæi, quos Græci proselytos vocant. Bed, in loc. Vid. et est, Ethnici, ut Nahaman Syrus, Nabocodonosor, Cyrus, @cum. in loc. p. 115, 116. Cornelius, et alii multi. Qui discebant promissiones de ven- e · Colentium advenarum.') Non Græcorum, sed eorum, turo Messiâ, et doctrinam de vero Deo, et de bonis operibus, qui legi Mosis se subdiderant, advenæe justitiæ. Grot, in juxta Decalogum. Et tamen nec circumcisi erant, nec serva- Act. xiii. 43.