« PreviousContinue »
I would not be understood as coinciding in sentiment with Mr. Davison in all that he has written. On the contrary, I cannot but consider his attempt to set aside the more commonly received opinion of the divine institution of primitive sacrifice, to be a signal failure. He argues chiefly from the silence of the scripture history, as to any direct appointment of sacrifice in the patriarchal age: contrasting this silence with the very express command upon the subject, given in connexion with the Mosaic ritual; (see page 31 of this Inquiry, &c.;) and he expresses himself with some severity against Kennicott, Witsins, &c.; and also against Archbishop Magee, because they recognise, in Gen. iii. 21, an intimation of the divine appointment of sacrifice. He calls their comments "remote and hazardous, not to say most arbitrary," and charges them with a complicated ingenuity involving a petitio principii as to the main question at issue.” (pp. 24-26, and note.)
Yet in support of his own opinion, that primitive sacrifice is to be traced to the invention of man, and not the appointment of God, he says, “Superstition, by an easy corruption of mind, might soon come to think, that the animal victim was not merely the representation of a deserved punishment, in which use it was rational; but the real equivalent of it, in which sense it was most unreasonable; and thus resort to sacrifice for pardon, as well as confession.” (p. 144.) What should be said of this hypothesis? We know, by Pet. i. 19, 20, that sacrifice for sin was the purpose of God before the foundation of the world. To say, then, that fallen man, by the uninfluenced exercise of his reason, aided by the unreasonable and superstitious corruptions of his mind, should have adopted a practice which happened to be in perfect unison with the mind of God, is to ascribe too much to a fortuitous coincidence. And, on the other hand, to admit that God secretly influenced man to the adoption of the practice, without any revealed commandment to that effect, is to yield what, after all, is the main question of the inquiry; since inspiration and revelation are alike divine.
Mr. Davison has offered no explanation of Gen. vii. 2. It
is the first express mention of the distinction between clean and unclean animals; yet it takes for granted, that Noah was already perfectly acquainted with this distinction; for, if ignorant of it, he could have made no attempt at obedience to the divine commandment, to take with him into the ark, clean beasts by sevens, and unclean by pairs. If, therefore, it be rigidly denied that any revelation was given, but what is expressly contained in the letter of the record, the advocates of that opinion are bound to shew from what source Noah could have derived the information, which it is manifest he possessed. Noah was previously acquainted with the distinction between clean and unclean animals; but the Scripture history, previous to the time of Noah, contains no mention of such distinction; does it therefore follow, that the distinction was an invention of men? It would, I think, be difficult to shew by what easy corruption of mind, superstition might have contrived to separate between the roebuck and the hare, the goat and the camel, the dove and the raven; pronouncing on the one side clean, and on the other side unclean. If then it be conceded, that these and similar distinctions, were too delicate and detailed for human invention, the conclusion is inevitable. They were of divine institution; but the Scripture history is silent upon the subject, until the long subsequent age of Moses; and consequently, the silence of the early Scripture history, in the letter of it, is not conclusive against the fact of divine appointment; although that silence stands in remarkable contrast with subsequent express revelation upon the subject in question. If this reasoning be correct, the very foundation of his system is withdrawn from Mr. Davison; and the censures which he has so freely passed upon several distinguished divines, might have been spared.
It does not belong to my present purpose, to pursue this argument further; and I would not have adverted to the subject at all, but that, feeling much indebted to Mr. Davison, for his work on Prophecy, and having expressed myself in general terms of sincere commendation, I considered it my duty to accompany such expressions with this necessary reservation
THE TEN LOST TRIBES.
The following paragraph, which lately appeared in a German paper, under the head of Leipsic, is calculated to lead to some interesting inquiries:
“After having seen, for some years past, merchants from Tiflis, Persia, and Armenia, among the visitors at our fair, we have had, for the first time, two traders from Bucharia with shawls, which are there manufactured of the finest wool of the goats of Tibet and Cashmere, BY THE JEWISH FAMILIES, who form a third part of the population. In Bucharia (formerly the capital of Sogdiana) the Jews have been very numerous ever since the Babylonian captivity, and are there as remarkable for their industry and manufactures as they are in England for their money transactions. It was not till last year, that the Russian government succeeded in extending its diplomatic missions far into Bucharia. The above traders exchanged their shawls for coarse and fine woollen cloths, of such colours as are most esteemed in the East.”
Much interest has been excited by the information which this paragraph conveys, and which is equally novel and important. In none of the geographical works which we have consulted, do we find the least hint as to the existence, in Bucharia, of such a body of Jews as that here mentioned, amounting to one-third of the whole population; but as the fact can no longer be doubted, the next point of inquiry which presents itself, is, Whence have they proceeded, and how have they come to establish themselves in a region so remote from their original country? This question, we think, can only be answered by supposing, that these persons are the descendants of the longlost Ten Tribes, concerning the fate of which theologians, historians, and antiquaries, have been alike puzzled; and, however wild this hypothesis may at first appear, there are not wanting circumstances to render it far from being improbable. In the 17th chapter of the second book of Kings, it is said, “In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away unto Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor, by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes;" and in the subsequent verses, as well as in the writings of the prophets, it is said, that the Lord then “put away Israel out of his sight, and carried them away into the land of Assyria, unto this day.” In the Apocrypha, 2nd Esdras, xiii. it is said, that the Ten Tribes were carried beyond the river (Euphrates), and so they were brought into another land, when they took counsel together, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwelt; that they entered in at the narrow passages of the river Euphrates, when the springs of the flood were stayed, and "went through the country a great journey, even of a year and a-half:” and it is added, that there they will remain until the latter time, when they will come forth
again.” The country beyond Bucharia was unknown to the ancients; and it is, we believe, generally admitted that the river Gozan, mentioned in the Book of Kings, is the same as the Ganges, which has its rise in those very countries in which the Jews reside, of whom the Leipsic account speaks. The distance which these two merchants must have travelled cannot, therefore, be less than three thousand miles; and there can be little doubt that the Jews, whom they represent as a third part of the population of the country, are descendants of the Ten Tribes of Israel, settled by the river Gozan.
The great plain of central Asia, forming four principal sides, viz. Little Bucharia, Thibet, Mongols, and Mancheous, contains a surface of 150,000 square miles, and a population of 20,000,000. This vast country is still very little known. The great traits of its gigantic formation, compose, for the most part, all that we are certain of. It is an immense plain of an excessive elevation, intersected with barren rocks, and vast deserts, of a black and almost moving sand. It is supported on all sides by mountains of granite; whose elevated summits determine the different climates of the great continent of Asia, and form the division of its waters. From its exterior flow all the great rivers of that part of the world. In the interior are a quantity of rivers, having little declivity, or no issue, which are lost in the sands, or perhaps feed stagnant waters. In the southern chains are countries, populous, rich, and civilized; Little Bucharia, Great and Little Thibet. The people of the north are shepherds and wanderers. Their riches consist in their herds. Their habitations are tents, and town camps, which are transported according to the want of pasturage. The Bucharians enjoy the right of trading to all parts of Asia, and the Thibetians cultivate the earth to advantage. The ancients had only a confused idea of Central Asia. The inhabitants of this country," as we learn from a great authority, “are in a high state of civilization; possessing all the useful manufactures, and lofty houses built with stone. The Chinese reckon (but this is evidently an exaggeration) that Thibet alone contains 33,000,000 of persons. The merchants of Cashmere, on their way to Yarkand, in Little Bucharia, pass through Little Thibet. This country is scarcely known to European geographers.” The immense plain of Central Asia is hemmed in, and almost inaccessible by mountain ranges of the greatest elevation, which surround it on all sides, except towards China; and when the watchful jealousy of the government of the Celestial Empire is considered, it will scarcely be wondered at that the vast region in question is so little known.
Such is the country which these newly-discovered Jews are
said to inhabit in such numbers. The following facts may, perhaps, serve to throw some additional light on this interesting subject.
In the year 1822, a Mr. Sargon, who, if we mistake not, was one of the agents to the London Society, communicated to England some interesting accounts of a number of persons resident at Bombay, Cannanore, and their vicinity, who were evidently the descendants of Jews, calling themselves BeniIsrael, and bearing, almost uniformly, Jewish names, but with Persian terminations. This gentleman, feeling very desirous to obtain all possible knowledge of their condition, undertook a mission for this purpose to Cannanore; and the result of his inquiries was, a conviction that they were not Jews of the one tribe and a half, being of a different race to the white and black Jews at Cochin, and, consequently, that they were a remnant of the long-lost Ten Tribes. This gentleman also concluded, from the information he obtained respecting the Beni-Israel, that they existed in great numbers in the countries between Cochin and Bombay, the north of Persia, among the hordes of Tartary and in Cashmere; the very countries in which, according to the paragraph in the German paper, they exist in such numbers. So far, then, these accounts confirm each other, and there is every probability that the Beni-Israel, resident on the west of the Indian Peninsula, had originally proceeded from Bucharia. It will, therefore, be interesting to know something of their moral and religious character. The following particulars are collected from Mr. Sargon's accounts.—1. In dress and manners they resemble the natives, so as not to be distinguished from them, except by attentive observation and inquiry. 2. They have Hebrew names of the same kind, and with the same local terminations, as the Sepoys in the ninth regiment Bombay Native Infantry. 3. Some of them read Hebrew, and they have a faint tradition of the cause of their original Exodus from Egypt. 4. Their common language is the Hindoo. 5. They keep idols and worship them, and use idolatrous ceremonies intermixed with Hebrew. 6. They circumcise their own children. 7. They observe the Kippoor, or great expiation-day of the Hebrews, but not the Sabbath, or any feast or fast days. 8. They call themselves Gorah Jehudi, or White Jews; and they term the Black Jews Collah Jehudi. 9. They speak of the Arabian Jews as their brethren, but do not acknowledge the European Jews as such, because they are of a fairer complexion than themselves. 10. They use on all occasions, and under the most trivial circumstances, the usual Jewish Prayer, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”
11. They have no cohen (priest), levite, or casi