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SECT. XV. From the truth and antiquity of Moses.

THIS also gives the greatest credit imaginable to the writings of Moses, in which these miracles are recorded to posterity; that there was not only a settled opinion and constant tradition amongst the Jews that this Moses was appointed by the express command of God himself to be the leader and captain of this people; but also because, as is very evident, he did not make his own glory and advantage his principal aim, but he himself relates those-errors of his own, which he could have concealed; and delivered the regal and sacerdotal dignity to others, (permitting his own posterity to be reduced only to common Levites). All which plainly shew, that he had no occasion to falsify in his history; as the style of it further evinces, it being free from that varnish and colour, which uses to give credit to 21romances; and is very natural and easy, and agreeable to the matter of which it treats. Moreover, another argument for the undoubted antiquity of Moses’s writings, which no other writings can pretend to, is this, that the Greeks (from whom all other nations derived their learning) own, that they had their letters from foreigners;3030   Herodotus in his Terpsichore says, “That the Ionians had their letters from the Phœnicians, and used them, with very little variation; which afterwards appearing, those letters were called Phœnician, (as they ought to be), from the Phœnicians bringing them into Greece.” He calls them,
   “The Phœnician characters of Cadmus,”

   And Callimachus;

   ——Cadmus, from whom the Greeks
Their written books derive.”

   And Plutarch calls them Phœnician or Punic letters, in his ninth book, and third prob. of his Symposiacs, where he says, that alpha in the Phœnician language signifies an ox, which is very true. Eupolemus, in his book of the kings of Judæa, says, “That Moses was the first wise man, and that letters were first given by him to the Jews, and from them the Phœnicians received them;” that is, the ancient language of the Jews and Phœnicians was the same, or very little different. Thus Lucian: “He spake some indistinct words, like the Hebrew or Phœnician.” And Chærilus, In his verses concerning the Solimi, who, he says, dwelt near the lake, I suppose he means Asphaltites,

   “These with their tongue pronounced Phœnician words.”

   See also the Punic scene of Plautus, where you have the words that are put in the Punic language twice, by reason of the double writing; and also the Latin translation; whence you may easily correct what is corrupted. And as the Phœnician and Hebrew languages were the same, so are the ancient Hebrew letters the same with those of the Phœnicians. See the great men about this matter. Joseph Scaliger’s Diatriba of the Eusebian year IƆ IƆCCXVII. and the first book, ch. x. of Gerard Vossius’s Grammar, (and particularly Sam. Bochart, in his Chanaan). You may amid also, if you please, Clement of Alexandria, Strom. book 1. and Esebius’s Gospel Preparation, book x. ch. 5.
which letters of theirs have the same order, name, and shape, as the Syriac 22or Hebrew:3131   He means the Samaritan letters, which are the same as the Phœnician, as Lud. Capel, Sam. Bochart, and others, have shewn. I also have treated of the same in French, in the Biblioth. Select. vol. xi. Le Clerc. and further still, the most ancient Attic laws, from whence the Roman were afterwards taken, owe their original to the law of Moses.3232    You have a famous instance of this, in thieves that rob by night, which we have treated of in the second book of war and peace, chap. i. sect. 12. and another in that law which Sopator recites, “Let him that is next a-kin possess the heiress;” which is thus explained by Terence: “There is a law, by which widows ought to be married to the next kinsmen, and the same law obliges these kinsmen to marry them.”
   Donatus remarks upon this place thus: “That the widow should be married to the next kinsman, and he marry her, is the Attic law,” viz. taken from the law of Moses, in the last chap. of Numbers, which we shall have opportunity of speaking more of afterwards. A great many other things may be found to this purpose, if any one search diligently for them: as the feast in which they carried clusters of grapes, taken from the feast of tabernacles; the law that the high priest should marry none but a virgin, and his countrywoman; that next after sisters, kinsmen by the father’s side should inherit: wherefore the Attic laws agree with many of the Hebrew, because the Attics owe many of their customs to Cecrops, king of Egypt; and because God established many laws amongst the Hebrews, very much like those of the Egyptians, to which they had been accustomed, only reforming such things as were bad in them; as we have often observed in our notes upon the Pentateuch, and, before us, John Spencer in his book about the ritual laws of the Jews. Le Clerc.

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