Blaise Pascal/Thoughts/Section 9
ON the fact that the Christian religion is not the only religion.—So far is this from being a reason for believing that it is not the true one, that, on the contrary, it makes us see that it is so.
Men must be sincere in all religions; true heathens, true Jews, true Christians.
|Ignorance of God.|
The falseness of other religions.—They have no witnesses. The Jews have. God defies other religions to produce such signs: Isaiah xviii. 9; xliv. 8.
History of China.―I believe only the histories, whose witnesses got themselves killed.
[Which is the more credible of the two, Moses or China?]
It is not a question of seeing this summarily. I tell you there is in it something to blind, and something to enlighten.
By this one word I destroy all your reasoning. "But China obscures," say you; and I answer, "China obscures, but there is clearness to be found; seek it."
Thus all that you say makes for one of the views, and not at all against the other. So this serves, and does no harm.
We must then see this in detail; we must put the papers on the table.
Against the history of China. The historians of Mexico, the five suns, of which the last is only eight hundred years old.
The difference between a book accepted by a nation, and one which makes a nation.
Mahomet was without authority. His reasons then should have been very strong, having only their own force. What does he say then, that we must believe him?
The Psalms are chanted throughout the whole world.
Who renders testimony to Mahomet? Himself. Jesus Christ desires His own testimony to be as nothing.
The quality of witnesses necessitates their existence always and everywhere; and he, miserable creature, is alone.
Against Mahomet.—The Koran is not more of Mahomet than the Gospel is of Saint Matthew, for it is cited by many authors from age to age. Even its very enemies, Celsus and Porphyry, never denied it.
The Koran says Saint Matthew was an honest man. Therefore Mahomet was a false prophet for calling honest men wicked, or for not agreeing with what they have said of Jesus Christ.
It is not by that which is obscure in Mahomet, and which may be interpreted in a mysterious sense, that I would have him judged, but by what is clear, as his paradise and the rest. In that he is ridiculous. And since what is clear is ridiculous, it is not right to take his obscurities for mysteries.
It is not the same with the Scripture. I agree that there are in it obscurities as strange as those of Mahomet; but there are admirably clear passages, and the prophecies are manifestly fulfilled. The cases are therefore not on a par. We must not confound, and put on one level things which only resemble each other in their obscurity, and not in the clearness, which requires us to reverence the obscurities.
The difference between Jesus Christ and Mahomet.—Mahomet was not foretold; Jesus Christ was foretold.
Mahomet slew; Jesus Christ caused His own to be slain.
Mahomet forbade reading; the Apostles ordered reading.
In fact the two are so opposed, that if Mahomet took the way to succeed from a worldly point of view, Jesus Christ, from the same point of view, took the way to perish. And instead of concluding that, since Mahomet succeeded, Jesus Christ might well have succeeded, we ought to say that since Mahomet succeeded, Jesus Christ should have failed.
Any man can do what Mahomet has done; for he performed no miracles, he was not foretold. No man can do what Christ has done.
The heathen religion has no foundation [at the present day. It is said once to have had a foundation by the oracles which spoke. But what are the books which assure us of this? Are they so worthy of belief on account of the virtue of their authors? Have they been preserved with such care that we can be sure that they have not been meddled with?]
The Mahometan religion has for a foundation the Koran and Mahomet. But has this prophet, who was to be the last hope of the world, been foretold? What sign has he that every other man has not, who chooses to call himself a prophet? What miracles does he himself say that he has done? What mysteries has he taught, even according to his own tradition? What was the morality, what the happiness held out by him?
The Jewish religion must be differently regarded in the tradition of the Holy Bible, and in the tradition of the people. Its morality and happiness are absurd in the tradition of the people, but are admirable in that of the Holy Bible. (And all religion is the same; for the Christian religion is very different in the Holy Bible and in the casuists.) The foundation is admirable; it is the most ancient book in the world, and the most authentic; and whereas Mahomet, in order to make his own book continue in existence, forbade men to read it, Moses, for the same reason, ordered every one to read his.
Our religion is so divine that another divine religion has only been the foundation of it.
Order.—To see what is clear and indisputable in the whole state of the Jews.
The Jewish religion is wholly divine in its authority, its duration, its perpetuity, its morality, its doctrine, and its effects.
The only science contrary to common sense and human nature is that alone which has always existed among men.
The only religion contrary to nature, to common sense, and to our pleasure, is that alone which has always existed.
No religion but our own has taught that man is born in sin. No sect of philosophers has said this. Therefore none have declared the truth.
No sect or religion has always existed on earth, but the Christian religion.
Whoever judges of the Jewish religion by its coarser forms will misunderstand it. It is to be seen in the Holy Bible, and in the tradition of the prophets, who have made it plain enough that they did not interpret the law according to the letter. So our religion is divine in the Gospel, in the Apostles, and in tradition; but it is absurd in those who tamper with it.
The Messiah, according to the carnal Jews, was to be a great temporal prince. Jesus Christ, according to carnal Christians, has come to dispense us from the love of God, and to give us sacraments which shall do everything without our help. Such is not the Christian religion, nor the Jewish. True Jews and true Christians have always expected a Messiah who should make them love God, and by that love triumph over their enemies.
The carnal Jews hold a midway place between Christians and heathens. The heathens know not God, and love the world only. The Jews know the true God, and love the world only. The Christians know the true God, and love not the world. Jews and heathens love the same good. Jews and Christians know the same God.
The Jews were of two kinds; the first had only heathen affections, the other had Christian affections.
There are two kinds of men in each religion: among the heathen, worshippers of beasts, and the worshippers of the one only God of natural religion; among the Jews, the carnal, and the spiritual, who were the Christians of the old law; among Christians, the coarser-minded, who are the Jews of the new law. The carnal Jews looked for a carnal Messiah; the coarser Christians believe that the Messiah has dispensed them from the love of God; true Jews and true Christians worship a Messiah who makes them love God.
To show that the true Jews and the true Christians have but the same religion.—The religion of the Jews seemed to consist essentially in the fatherhood of Abraham, in circumcision, in sacrifices, in ceremonies, in the Ark, in the temple, in Jerusalem, and, finally, in the law, and in the covenant with Moses.
I say that it consisted in none of those things, but only in the love of God, and that God disregarded all the other things.
That God did not accept the posterity of Abraham.
That the Jews were to be punished like strangers, if they transgressed. Deut. viii, 19: “If thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish, as the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face.”
That strangers, if they loved God, were to be received by Him as the Jews. Isaiah lvi, 3: “Let not the stranger say, ‘The Lord will not receive me.’ The strangers who join themselves unto the Lord to serve Him and love Him, will I bring unto my holy mountain, and accept therein sacrifices, for mine house is a house of prayer.”
That the true Jews considered their merit to be from God only, and not from Abraham. Isaiah lxiii, 16: “Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not. Thou art our Father and our Redeemer.”
Moses himself told them that God would not accept persons. Deut. x. 17: “God,” said he, “regardeth neither persons nor sacrifices.”
The Sabbath was only a sign, Exod. xxxi, 13; and in memory of the escape from Egypt, Deut. v, 19. Therefore it is no longer necessary, since Egypt must be forgotten.
Circumcision was only a sign, Gen. xvii, 11. And thence it came to pass that, being in the desert, they were not circumcised, because they could not be confounded with other peoples; and after Jesus Christ came, it was no longer necessary.
That the circumcision of the heart is commanded. Deut. x. 16; Jeremiah iv, 4: “Be ye circumcised in heart; take away the superfluities of your heart, and harden yourselves not. For your God is a mighty God, strong and terrible, who accepteth not persons.”
That God said He would one day do it. Deut. xxx, 6: “God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, that thou mayest love Him with all thine heart.”
That the uncircumcised in heart shall be judged. Jeremiah ix, 26: For God will judge the uncircumcised peoples, and all the people of Israel, because he is “uncircumcised in heart.”
That the external is of no avail apart from the internal. Joel ii, 13: Scindite corda vestra, &c.; Isaiah lviii, 3, 4, &c.
The love of God is enjoined in the whole of Deuteronomy. Deut. xxx. 19: “I call heaven and earth to record that I have set before you life and death, that you should choose life, and love God, and obey Him, for God is your life.”
That the Jews, for lack of that love, should be rejected for their offences, and the heathen chosen in their stead. Hosea i, 10; Deut. xxxii, 20. “I will hide myself from them in view of their latter sins, for they are a froward generation without faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God, and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people, and with an ignorant and foolish nation.” Isaiah lxv, 1.
That temporal goods are false, and that the true good is to be united to God. Psalm cxliii, 15.
That their feasts are displeasing to God. Amos, v. 21.
That the sacrifices of the Jews displeased God. Isaiah, lxvi. 1-3; i. 11; Jer., vi. 20; David, Miserere.—Even on the part of the good, Expectavi. Psalm xlix, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.
That He has established them only for their hardness. Micah, admirably, vi.; 1 Kings, xv. 22; Hosea, vi. 6.
That the sacrifices of the Gentiles will be accepted of God, and that God will take no pleasure in the sacrifices of the Jews. Malachi, i. 11.
That God will make a new covenant with the Messiah, and the old will be annulled. Jer. xxxi. 31. Mandata non bona. Ezek.
That the old things will be forgotten. Isaiah xliii. 18, 19; lxv. 17, 18.
That the Ark will no longer be remembered. Jer. iii. 15.
That the temple should be rejected. Jer. vii. 12, 13, 14.
That the sacrifices should be rejected, and other pure sacrifices established. Malachi i. 11.
That the order of Aaron's priesthood should be rejected, and that of Melchizedek introduced by the Messiah. Ps. Dixit Dominus.
That this priesthood should be eternal. Ibid.
That Jerusalem should be rejected, and Rome admitted. Ps. Dixit Dominus.
That the name of the Jews should be rejected, and a new name given. Isaiah lxv. 15.
That this last name should be more excellent than that of the Jews, and eternal. Isaiah lvi. 5.
That the Jews should be without prophets (Amos), without a king, without princes, without sacrifice, without an idol.
That the Jews should nevertheless always remain a people. Jer. xxxi. 36.
Republic.—The Christian republic—and even the Jewish—has only had God for ruler, as Philo the Jew notices, On Monarchy.
When they fought, it was for God only; their chief hope was in God only; they considered their towns as belonging to God only, and kept them for God. 1 Chron. xix. 13.
Gen. xvii. 7. Statuam pactum meum inter me et te fœdere sempiterno ut sim Deus tuus.
9. Et tu ergo custodies pactum meum.
Perpetuity.—That religion has always existed on earth, which consists in believing that man has fallen from a state of glory and of communion with God into a state of sorrow, penitence, and estrangement from God, but that after this life we shall be restored by a Messiah who should have come. All things have passed away, and this has endured, for which all things are.
Men have in the first age of the world been carried away into every kind of debauchery, and yet there were saints, as Enoch, Lamech, and others, who waited patiently for the Christ promised from the beginning of the world. Noah saw the wickedness of men at its height; and he was held worthy to save the world in his person, by the hope of the Messiah of whom he was the type. Abraham was surrounded by idolaters, when God made known to him the mystery of the Messiah, whom he welcomed from afar. In the time of Isaac and Jacob abomination was spread over all the earth; but these saints lived in faith; and Jacob, dying and blessing his children, cried in a transport which made him break off his discourse, “I await, O my God, the Saviour whom Thou hast promised. Salutare tuum expectabo, Domine.” The Egyptians were infected both with idolatry and magic; the very people of God were led astray by their example. Yet Moses and others believed Him whom they saw not, and worshipped Him, looking to the eternal gifts which He was preparing for them.
The Greeks and Latins then set up false deities; the poets made a hundred different theologies, while the philosophers separated into a thousand different sects; and yet in the heart of Judæa there were always chosen men who foretold the coming of this Messiah, which was known to them alone.
He came at length in the fullness of time, and time has since witnessed the birth of so many schisms and heresies, so many political revolutions, so many changes in all things; yet this Church, which worships Him who has always been worshipped, has endured uninterruptedly. It is a wonderful, incomparable, and altogether divine fact that this religion, which has always endured, has always been attacked. It has been a thousand times on the eve of universal destruction, and every time it has been in that state, God has restored it by extraordinary acts of His power. This is astonishing, as also that it has preserved itself without yielding to the will of tyrants. For it is not strange that a State endures, when its laws are sometimes made to give way to necessity, but that…(See the passage indicated in Montaigne.)
States would perish if they did not often make their laws give way to necessity. But religion has never suffered this, or practised it. Indeed, there must be these compromises, or miracles. It is not strange to be saved by yielding, and this is not strictly self-preservation; besides, in the end they perish entirely. None has endured a thousand years. But the fact that this religion has always maintained itself, inflexible as it is, proves its divinity.
Whatever may be said, it must be admitted that the Christian religion has something astonishing in it. Some will say, "This is because you were born in it." Far from it; I stiffen myself against it for this very reason, for fear this prejudice bias me. But although I am born in it, I cannot help finding it so.
Perpetuity.—The Messiah has always been believed in. The tradition from Adam was fresh in Noah and in Moses. Since then the prophets have foretold him, while at the same time foretelling other things, which, being from time to time fulfilled in the sight of men, showed the truth of their mission, and consequently that of their promises touching the Messiah. Jesus Christ performed miracles, and the Apostles also, who converted all the heathen; and all the prophecies being thereby fulfilled, the Messiah is for ever proved.
Perpetuity.—Let us consider that since the beginning of the world the expectation of worship of the Messiah has existed uninterruptedly; that there have been found men, who said that God had revealed to them that a Redeemer was to be born, who should save His people; that Abraham came afterwards, saying that he had had a revelation that the Messiah was to spring from him by a son, whom he should have; that Jacob declared that, of his twelve sons, the Messiah would spring from Judah; that Moses and the prophets then came to declare the time and the manner of His coming; that they said their law was only temporary till that of the Messiah, that it should endure till then, but that the other should last for ever; that thus either their law, or that of the Messiah, of which it was the promise, would be always upon the earth; that, in fact, it has always endured; that at last Jesus Christ came with all the circumstances foretold. This is wonderful.
This is positive fact. While all philosophers separate into different sects, there is found in one corner of the world the most ancient people in it, declaring that all the world is in error, that God has revealed to them the truth, that they will always exist on the earth. In fact, all other sects come to an end, this one still endures, and has done so for four thousand years.
They declare that they hold from their ancestors that man has fallen from communion with God, and is entirely estranged from God, but that He has promised to redeem them; that this doctrine shall always exist on the earth; that their law has a double signification; that during sixteen hundred years they have had people, whom they believed prophets, foretelling both the time and the manner; that four hundred years after they were scattered everywhere, because Jesus Christ was to be everywhere announced; that Jesus Christ came in the manner, and at the time foretold; that the Jews have since been scattered abroad under a curse, and nevertheless still exist.
I see the Christian religion founded upon a preceding religion, and this is what I find as a fact.
I do not here speak of the miracles of Moses, of Jesus Christ, and of the Apostles, because they do not at first seem convincing, and because I only wish here to put in evidence all those foundations of the Christian religion which are beyond doubt, and which cannot be called in question by any person whatsoever. It is certain that we see in many places of the world a peculiar people, separated from all other peoples of the world, and called the Jewish people.
I see then a crowd of religions in many parts of the world and in all times; but their morality cannot please me, nor can their proofs convince me. Thus I should equally have rejected the religion of Mahomet and of China, of the ancient Romans and of the Egyptians, for the sole reason, that none having more marks of truth than another, nor anything which should necessarily persuade me, reason cannot incline to one rather than the other.
But, in thus considering this changeable and singular variety of morals and beliefs at different times, I find in one corner of the world a peculiar people, separated from all other peoples on earth, the most ancient of all, and whose histories are earlier by many generations than the most ancient which we possess.
I find, then, this great and numerous people, sprung from a single man, who worship one God, and guide themselves by a law which they say that they obtained from His own hand. They maintain that they are the only people in the world to whom God has revealed His mysteries; that all men are corrupt and in disgrace with God; that they are all abandoned to their senses and their own imagination, whence come the strange errors and continual changes which happen among them, both of religions and of morals, whereas they themselves remain firm in their conduct; but that God will not leave other nations in this darkness for ever; that there will come a Saviour for all; that they are in the world to announce Him to men; that they are expressly formed to be forerunners and heralds of this great event, and to summon all nations to join with them in the expectation of this Saviour.
To meet with this people is astonishing to me, and seems to me worthy of attention. I look at the law which they boast of having obtained from God, and I find it admirable. It is the first law of all, and is of such a kind that, even before the term law was in currency among the Greeks, it had, for nearly a thousand years earlier, been uninterruptedly accepted and observed by the Jews. I likewise think it strange that the first law of the world happens to be the most perfect; so that the greatest legislators have borrowed their laws from it, as is apparent from the law of the Twelve Tables at Athens, afterwards taken by the Romans, and as it would be easy to prove, if Josephus and others had not sufficiently dealt with this subject.
Advantages of the Jewish people.—In this search the Jewish people at once attracts my attention by the number of wonderful and singular facts which appear about them.
I first see that they are a people wholly composed of brethren, and whereas all others are formed by the assemblage of an infinity of families, this, though so wonderfully fruitful, has all sprung from one man alone, and, being thus all one flesh, and members one of another, they constitute a powerful state of one family. This is unique.
This family, or people, is the most ancient within human knowledge, a fact which seems to me to inspire a peculiar veneration for it, especially in view of our present inquiry; since if God had from all time revealed Himself to men, it is to these we must turn for knowledge of the tradition.
This people is not eminent solely by their antiquity, but is also singular by their duration, which has always continued from their origin till now. For whereas the nations of Greece and of Italy, of Lacedæmon, of Athens and of Rome, and others who came long after, have long since perished, these ever remain, and in spite of the endeavours of many powerful kings who have a hundred times tried to destroy them, as their historians testify, and as it is easy to conjecture from the natural order of things during so long a space of years, they have nevertheless been preserved (and this preservation has been foretold); and extending from the earliest times to the latest, their history comprehends in its duration all our histories [which it preceded by a long time].
The law by which this people is governed is at once the most ancient law in the world, the most perfect, and the only one which has been always observed without a break in a state. This is what Josephus admirably proves, against Apion, and also Philo the Jew, in different places, where they point out that it is so ancient that the very name of law was only known by the oldest nation more than a thousand years afterwards; so that Homer, who has written the history of so many states, has never used the term. And it is easy to judge of its perfection by simply reading it; for we see that it has provided for all things with so great wisdom, equity, and judgment, that the most ancient legislators, Greek and Roman, having had some knowledge of it, have borrowed from it their principal laws; this is evident from what are called the Twelve Tables, and from the other proofs which Josephus gives.
But this law is at the same time the severest and strictest of all in respect to their religious worship, imposing on this people, in order to keep them to their duty, a thousand peculiar and painful observances, on pain of death. Whence it is very astonishing that it has been constantly preserved during many centuries by a people, rebellious and impatient as this one was; while all other states have changed their laws from time to time, although these were far more lenient.
The book which contains this law, the first of all, is itself the most ancient book in the world, those of Homer, Hesiod, and others, being six or seven hundred years later.
The creation and the deluge being past, and God no longer requiring to destroy the world, nor to create it anew, nor to give such great signs of Himself, He began to establish a people on the earth, purposely formed, who were to last until the coming of the people whom the Messiah should fashion by His spirit.
The creation of the world beginning to be distant, God provided a single contemporary historian, and appointed a whole people as guardians of this book, in order that this history might be the most authentic in the world, and that all men might thereby learn a fact so necessary to know, and which could only be known through that means.
[Japhet begins the genealogy.]
Joseph folds his arms, and prefers to keep silent.
Why should Moses make the lives of men so long, and their generations so few?
Because it is not the length of years, but the multitude of generations, which renders things obscure. For truth is perverted only by the change of men. And yet he puts two things, the most memorable that were ever imagined, namely, the creation and the deluge, so near that we reach from one to the other.
Shem, who saw Lamech, who saw Adam, saw also Jacob, who saw those who saw Moses; therefore the deluge and the creation are true. This is conclusive among certain people who understand it rightly.
The longevity of the patriarchs, instead of causing the loss of past history, conduced, on the contrary, to its preservation. For the reason why we are sometimes insufficiently instructed in the history of our ancestors, is that we have never lived long with them, and that they are often dead before we have attained the age of reason. Now, when men lived so long, children lived long with their parents. They conversed long with them. But what else could be the subject of their talk save the history of their ancestors, since to that all history was reduced, and men did not study science or art, which now form a large part of daily conversation? We see also that in these days tribes took particular care to preserve their genealogies.
I believe that Joshua was the first of God's people to have this name, as Jesus Christ was the last of God's people.
Antiquity of the Jews.—What a difference there is between one book and another! I am not astonished that the Greeks made the Iliad, nor the Egyptians and the Chinese their histories.
We have only to see how this originates. These fabulous historians are not contemporaneous with the facts about which they write. Homer composes a romance, which he gives out as such, and which is received as such; for nobody doubted that Troy and Agamemnon no more existed than did the golden apple. Accordingly he did not think of making a history, but solely a book to amuse; he is the only writer of his time; the beauty of the work has made it last, every one learns it and talks of it, it is necessary to know it, and each one knows it by heart. Four hundred years afterwards the witnesses of these facts are no longer alive, no one knows of his own knowledge if it be a fable or a history; one has only learnt it from his ancestors, and this can pass for truth.
Every history which is not contemporaneous, as the books of the Sibyls and Trismegistus and so many others which have been believed by the world, are false, and found to be false in the course of time. It is not so with contemporaneous writers.
There is a great difference between a book which an individual writes, and publishes to a nation, and a book which itself creates a nation. We cannot doubt that the book is as old as the people.
Josephus hides the shame of his nation.
Moses does not hide his own shame.
Quis mihi det ut omnes prophetent?
He was weary of the multitude.
The sincerity of the Jews.—Maccabees, after they had no more prophets; the Masorah, since Jesus Christ.
This book will be a testimony for you.
Defective and final letters.
Sincere against their honour, and dying for it; this has no example in the world, and no root in nature.
Sincerity of the Jews.—They preserve lovingly and carefully the book in which Moses declares that they have been all their life ungrateful to God, and that he knows they will be still more so after his death; but that he calls heaven and earth to witness against them, and that he has [taught] them enough.
He declares that God, being angry with them, shall at last scatter them among all the nations of the earth; that as they have offended Him by worshipping gods who were not their God, so He will provoke them by calling a people who are not His people; that He desires that all His words be preserved for ever, and that His book be placed in the Ark of the Covenant to serve for ever as a witness against them.
Isaiah says the same thing, xxx.
On Esdras.—The story that the books were burnt with the temple proved false by Maccabees: "Jeremiah gave them the law."
The story that he recited the whole by heart. Josephus and Esdras point out that he read the book. Baronius, Ann., p. 180: Nullus penitus Hebræorum antiquorum reperitur qui tradiderit libros periisse et per Esdram esse restitutos, nisi in IV. Esdræ. 
The story that he changed the letters.
Philo, in Vita Moysis: Illa lingua ac character quo antiquitus scripta est lex sic permansit usque ad LXX.
Josephus says that the Law was in Hebrew when it was translated by the Seventy.
Under Antiochus and Vespasian, when they wanted to abolish the books, and when there was no prophet, they could not do so. And under the Babylonians, when no persecution had been made, and when there were so many prophets, would they have let them be burnt?
Josephus laughs at the Greeks who would not bear…
Tertullian.—Perinde potuit abolefactam eam violentia cataclysmi in spiritu rursus reformare, quemadmodum et Hierosolymis Babylonia expugnatione deletis, omne instrumentum Judaicæ literaturæ per Esdram constat restauratum.
He says that Noah could as easily have restored in spirit the book of Enoch, destroyed by the Deluge, as Esdras could have restored the Scriptures lost during the Captivity.
(Θεὸς) ἐν τῇ ἐπὶ Ναβουκοδόνοσορ αἰχμαλωσίᾳ τοῦ λαοῦ, διαφθαρεισῶν τῶν γραφῶν… ἐνέπνευσε Εσδρᾷ τῷ ἱερεῖ ἐκ τῆς φυλῆς Λευὶ τοῦς τῶν προγεγονότων προφητῶν πάντας ὰνατάξασθαι λόγους, καὶ ὰποκαταστῆσαι τῷ λαῷ τὴν διὰ Μωυσέως νομοθεσίαν. He alleges this to prove that it is not incredible that the Seventy may have explained the holy Scriptures with that uniformity which we admire in them. And he took that from Saint Irenæus.
Saint Hilary, in his preface to the Psalms, says that Esdras arranged the Psalms in order.
The origin of this tradition comes from the 14th chapter of the fourth book of Esdras. Deus glorificatus est, et Scripturæ vere divinæ creditæ sunt, omnibus eandem et eisdem verbis et eisdem nominibus recitantibus ab initio usque ad finem, uti et præsentes gentes cognoscerent quoniam per inspirationem Dei interpretatæ sunt Scripturæ et non esset mirabile Deum hoc in eis operatum: quando in ea captivitate populi quæ facta est a Nabuchodonosor, corruptis scripturis et post 70 annos Judæis descendentibus in regionem suam, et post deinde temporibus Artaxercis Persarum regis, inspiravit Esdræ sacerdoti tribus Levi præteritorum prophetarum omnes rememorare sermones, et restituere populo eam legem quæ data est per Moysen.
Against the story in Esdras, II. Maccab., ii;—Josephus, Antiquities, II. i.—Cyrus took occasion from the prophecy of Isaiah to release the people. The Jews held their property in peace under Cyrus in Babylon; hence they could well have the Law.
Josephus, in the whole history of Esdras, does not say one word about this restoration.—II. Kings xvii. 27.
If the story in Esdras is credible, then it must be believed that the Scripture is Holy Scripture; for this story is based only on the authority of those who assert that of the Seventy, which shows that the Scripture is holy.
Therefore if this account be true, we have what we want therein; if not, we have it elsewhere. And thus those who would ruin the truth of our religion, founded on Moses, establish it by the same authority by which they attack it. So by this providence it still exists.
Chronology of Rabbinism. (The citations of pages are from the book Pugio.)
Page 27. R. Hakadosch (anno 200), author of the Mischna, or vocal law, or second law.
Commentaries on the Mischna (anno 340): The one Siphra.
Bereschit Rabah, by R. Osaiah Rabah, commentary on the Mischna.
Bereschit Rabah, Bar Naconi, are subtle and pleasant discourses, historical and theological. This same author wrote the books called Rabot.
A hundred years after the Talmud Hierosol was composed the Babylonian Talmud, by R. Ase, A.D. 440, by the universal consent of all the Jews, who are necessarily obliged to observe all that is contained therein.
The addition of R. Ase is called the Gemara, that is to say, the "commentary" on the Mischna. And the Talmud includes together the Mischna and the Gemara.
If does not indicate indifference: Malachi, Isaiah.
Is., Si volumus, &c.
In quacumque die.
Prophecies.—The sceptre was not interrupted by the captivity in Babylon, because the return was promised and foretold.
Proofs of Jesus Christ.—Captivity, with the assurance of deliverance within seventy years, was not real captivity. But now they are captives without any hope.
God has promised them that even though He should scatter them to the ends of the earth, nevertheless if they were faithful to His law, He would assemble them together again. They are very faithful to it, and remain oppressed.
When Nebuchadnezzar carried away the people, for fear they should believe that the sceptre had departed from Judah, they were told beforehand that they would be there for a short time, and that they would be restored. They were always consoled by the prophets; and their kings continued. But the second destruction is without promise of restoration, without prophets, without kings, without consolation, without hope, because the sceptre is taken away for ever.
It is a wonderful thing, and worthy of particular attention, to see this Jewish people existing so many years in perpetual misery, it being necessary as a proof of Jesus Christ, both that they should exist to prove Him, and that they should be miserable because they crucified Him; and though to be miserable and to exist are contradictory, they nevertheless still exist in spite of their misery.
They are visibly a people expressly created to serve as a witness to the Messiah (Isaiah, xliii. 9; xliv. 8). They keep the books, and love them, and do not understand them. And all this was foretold; that God's judgments are entrusted to them, but as a sealed book.
- ↑ Numbers, xi. 29.
- ↑ “Nothing is found within the ancient Hebrew writings which recorded that the books perished and were restored through Esdras, except in Esdras, IV.”
- ↑ “The same language and character in which the Law was written in ancient times remained till the Septuagint.”
- ↑ Tertullian, De cultu femin., ii. 3.
- ↑ Eusebius, Hist. lib., v., c. 8.