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it; and the Lombards did not obtain the dominion of Italy till A.D. 570.a

8. Aben Ezra (XT14 13x Aben ozra) wrote a Commentary on the Old Testament in Hebrew: he is reckoned among the most learned of the Rabbins. His commentary is literal; but, by labouring to be concise, he hath become obscure. He was born at Toledo, in Spain, lived at Rome and Rhodes, and died at Rhodes A.D. 1165.

9. Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon, or Maimonides, called also Rambam, from the initials of his name, was born at Cordova in Spain, about A.D. 1131, lived long in Egypt as a physician, and died there A.D. 1208. Few authors are more frequently quoted than he. He wrote on most of the subjects contained in the Talmud, and is reckoned the most rational and systematic of their writers.

10. The last book I shall mention is that written by Don Isaac Abarbanel on the law, the former prophets, the beginning of the year, and the consecration of the new moon, according to the Rabbins, and against the Karaites, who fix it at the change, but the Rabbins when she became visible. He was born at Ulyssipona in Lusitania, A.D. 1437; was employed at the court of Alphonsus V.; left his native country as an exile, with the rest of the Jews, A.D. 1492; died at Venice, and was buried at Patavium A.D. 1508.


* See a full account of all the eight Targums in Prideaux Connect. A.A.C. 37.

b See an Analysis of his works, with the names of the translators, in Spencer De Leg. Hebr. Rit. vol. ii. sub fin.

c Considerable additional information as to Jewish authors may be obtained in the Catalogue given by Spencer, and Prideaux Connect, vol. ii. preface. Vol. II.



Jewish notions of Astronomy.

Jewish notions of the figure, motion, and dissolution of the earth. Objections

against the Copernican system examined. State of astronomy in Chaldea, Egypt, and Judea. The cases of Joshua, and the dial of Ahaz. Arcturus and Orion described: the Pleiades : the chambers of the south; Mazzaroth. Parkhurst's different explanation of these. The darkness at our Saviour's death considered. An interesting extract from Fergusson's Tracts.

The whole of Scripture strikes evidently against the generally received heathen opinion either of the eternity of the world, or its formation by chance ; for it points out its creation by the power of God at no very remote period, and its entire dependence on him for its continuance and regularity. As for the particular form of the earth, and the place it holds in the system of nature, the opinions of the ancients were very various. Some supposing that it was an extended plane, the extremities of which were surrounded by water; and others that it was a globe, or nearly so, with a surface di. versified by land and water: some imagining that it was fixed in its place, while the sun and the stars revolved around it; and others that the sun was fixed, and that the earth and planets revolved around him in eHiptical orbits; the sun being placed in one of the foci of these ellipses.

We know little of the ideas of the Jews concerning the relations of the heavenly bodies to each other, both on account of the distance of time, and because Scripture was given for other ends than to teach men philosophy; but, from what we can collect, they appear to have been nearly the same with what is accounted at present the true system of astronomy. For Job* speaks

· Job xxvi. 7.

of “ stretching out the north over the empty place, and hanging the earth upon nothing.” The diurnal and annual motions of the earth are not only hinted at, but contained in the word by which they described that body. 878 arets, the earth, is derived from 37 rets, a wheel, which not only revolves round its own axis, but has a progressive motion like that of the earth round the sun. And the dissolution of the world was known to Job when he said“ that 6 man lieth down, and riseth not till the heavens be no more :" and that God “compasseth the waters with limits till the day and night come to an end." Whilst Peter reveals to us the

precise agent that shall be employed in this awful work; for he tells us,' that “ the day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up."?

It hath been objected to this reasoning, that there are other parts of Scripture which speak of the stability of the earth, and of the motion of the sun and heavenly bodies. But it may be answered, that such expressions might only have been used in accommodation to visible appearances ; and as they are still used by philosophers in their common conversation every day, who talk of the rising and setting of the sun, and of the stability of the earth, as readily as the unlettered peasant.

From the hints given to us in the Book of Job, one would be inclined to consider the system of Pythagoras, or, as it is now called, of Copernicus, as only a more complete developement of that which was anciently known to that patriarch. Perhaps, also, the same belief was entertained by the more intelligent among the Jews, in the earlier period of their history, who drew their information from the sacred oracles, rather than from the erroneous and extravagant cosmogonies of their heathen neighbours. And who knows but the philosophers who went to the East in search of truth may

a Job. xiv, 12.
• Job xxvi. 10.

c 2 Peter iji. 10. d 1 Chron. xvi. 30. Ps. xciii. 1. xcvi, 10. civ. 5. cxix. 90. Eccles. i. 4. • Gen, w. 17. xix, 23. Ps. xix. 5, 6. Eccles. i. 5,

have received, while in their neighbourhood, those hints which, when reported to others, or improved by themselves, may have laid the foundation of those theories which have excited the admiration of posterity ? One thing is certain, that Pythagoras travelled into Egypt and Chaldea in quest of knowledge ; that he resided in these countries for many years ; that, in passing and repassing to. Chaldea, he could scarcely fail to become acquainted with so singular a people as the Jews; and it is not unlikely that the hints he may have received of their political, religious, and astronomical systems, may have served to perfect those views which he was afterwards pleased to communicate to the world. If the above reasoning be true, the land of Canaan has been the cradle both of religion and philosophy : and from it, as from a centre, have the rays of science and religion diverged among the nations. Nor is it any objection to this reasoning, that we have no written records, particularly stating that this was the case : for the Jews had equal advantages with the Egyptians and Chaldeans for making observations in astronomy, and there would be some in that country, as well as in the others, whose genius led them to these pursuits; but the reason why we hear nothing of their discoveries is, that their religion prevented them from associating with other nations, and, consequently, prevented strangers from residing among them. Perhaps the real state of the case, then, was as follows: That they had as just views of the great outline of the solar system as any of their neigh

bours, but that the observations made by the Egyptians and Chaldeans were more within the reach of Pythagoras and other enquiring travellers, and therefore recorded by them in their several writings. But since we are strangers to the discoveries which the Jews may have made in astronomical science, is there no way to come at an approximation to the truth ? Are there no borrowed lights which may serve in some measure to dispel the gloom, and furnish us with the probable progress of that science among this interesting people? The only reply that can be made to this query, is to state the hints we have in ancient authors of the astronomy of Egypt and Chaldea, and to suppose that these formed the outlines of the astronomical creed among the thinking part of the Jews in those times. Let us begin then with Chaldea. We are informed by the peripatetic philosopher Simplicius, on the authority of Porphyry, that when Babylon was taken by Alexander the Great, Callisthenes collected the astronomical observations of the Chaldeans for 1903 years, and transmitted them to Aristotle, at the desire of the Macedonian king. We know for certain, that three eclipses of the moon were accurately observed at Babylon in the years 719 and 720, before the Christian æra; and it is highly probable that, in the temperate and cloudless climate of Chaldea, these were not their earliest attempts in practical astronomy. Ptolomy, who made use of these eclipses for determining the mean motion of the moon, has recorded other four lunar eclipses, the last of which was observed at Babylon, about 367 years before Christ. The astronomical knowledge of the Chaldeans, however, is more unequivocally marked in their luni-solar periods, which must have been deduced from a great number of accurate observations. Their period of eclipses, which they called Saros, consisting of 223 lunations, or 6585

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