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THE different nations of the earth, which have received the Old and New Testaments as a Divine

revelation, have not only had them carefully translated into their respective languages, but have also agreed in the propriety and necessity of illustrating them by comments. At first, the insertion of a word or sentence in the margin, explaining some particular word in the text, appears to have constituted the whole of the comment. Afterwards, these were mingled with the text, but with such marks as served to distinguish them from the words they were intended to illustrate; sometimes the comment was interlined with the text, and at other times it occupied a space at the bot

Ancient comments written in all these various ways I have often seen; and a Bible now lies before me, written, probably, before the time of Wiclif, where the glosses are all incorporated with the text

, and only distinguished from it by a line underneath; the line evidently added by a later hand. As a matter of curiosity I shall introduce a few specimens.

And seide, Wath, or wele, kam chaufid. #sawe the fiír. Isa. xliv. 16.
De eete haye as an ope, and with dewe of heben his body was informid or defoulid, till his peris werideri Into
licnesse of eglis, and his naplís as naylís or cleeş of briddis. Dan. iv. 33.

De that is best in hem is as a palyure, that is a scharp busche, or a thistel or firse. Micah vii. 4.
De schal baptise or christend gou, with the hooly goost and flír, whos whynwinge clothe or fan in his hond.
Matt. iii. 11, 12.
Who ever schal leeve his wlif, geve he to her a lybel, that is, a lytil book of forsakinge. Matt. v. 31.
Blynde men seen, crakid men wandren, mesels ben maad clene, deef men heeren, deed men rysen agein, pore
men ben taken to prechynge of the gospel, or been maad kepers of the gospel. Matt. xi. 5.

¥ schal bolke out, or telle out thingis hid fro making of the world. Matt. xiii. 35. Zee serpentis fruytis of burrownyngis of eddris that sleen her modrís, how schuln zee ülee fro the dome of helle. Matt. xxiii. 33. Neroude tetraarcha, that is, prince of the fourth parte. Luke iii. 1. Dabynge your conversacioun or lilf good amonge heíthen men. 1 Pet. ii. 12. Gee schuln resceybe the unwelewable crown of glorie, or that schal never faade. 1 Pet. v. 4. Anoynt thir eegen with coluryo, that is, medicinal for eegen maad of diverse erbis, that thou see. Rev. iii. 18.

Comments written in this way have given birth to multitudes of the various readings afforded by ancient manuscripts ; for the notes of distinction being omitted or neglected, the gloss was often considered as an integral part of the text, and entered accordingly by succeeding copyists.

This is particularly remarkable in the Vulgate, which abounds with explanatory words and phrases, similar to those in the preceding quotations. In the Septuagint also, traces of this custom are easily discernible, and to this circumstance many of its various readings may be attributed.

In proportion to the distance of time from the period in which the sacred oracles were delivered, the necessity of comments became more apparent; for the political state of the people to whom the Scriptures were originally given, as well as that of the surrounding nations, being in the lapse of time essentially changed, hence was found the necessity of historical and chronological notes, to illustrate the facts related in the sacred books.

Did the nature of this preface permit, it might be useful to enter into a detailed history of commentators and their works, and show by what gradations they proceeded from simple verbal glosses to those colossal-accumulations in which the words of God lie buried in the sayings of men. But this at present is impracticable ; a short sketch must therefore suffice.

Perhaps the most ancient comments containing merely verbal glosses were the Chaldee Paraphrases, or Targums, particularly those of ONKELos on the Law, and Jonathan on the Prophets ; the former written a short time before the Christian era, the latter about fifty years after the incarnation. These comments are rather glosses on words, than an exposition of things ; and the former is little more than a verbal translation of the Hebrew text into pure Chaldee.

The TarguM YERUSHLEMEY is written in the manner of the two former, and contains a paraphrase, in very corrupt Chaldee, on select parts of the five books of Moses.



The Targum ascribed to JONATHAN ben Uzziel embraces the whole of the Pentateuch, but is disgraced with the most ridiculous and incredible fables.

Among the Jews, several eminent commentators appeared at different times, besides the Targumists already mentioned, who endeavoured to illustrate different parts of the Law and the Prophets.-Philo JUDÆUS may be reckoned among these ; his works contain several curious treatises in explication of different paris of the Hebrew Scriptures. He flourished about A. D. 40.

Josephus may be fairly ranked anong commentators; the first twelve books of his Jewish Anti quities are a regular paraphrase and comment on the political and ecclesiastical history of the Jews as given in the Bible, fivm the foundation of the world to the time of the Asmoneans or Maccabees. He flourislied abcüt À. D. 80.:.

It is well known that the Mishnah, or oral law of the Jews, is a pretended comment on the five books of Moses. This was compiled from innumerable traditions by Rabbi Judah Hakkadosh, probably about the year of our Lord 150.

The Talmuds, both of Jerusalem and Babylon, are a comment on the Mishnah. The former was compiled about A. D. 300, the latter about 200 years after.

Chaldee Targums, or Paraphrases, have been written on all the books of the Old Testament; some parts of the book of Ezra, and the book of Daniel, excepted; which, being originally written in Chaldee, did not require for the purpose of being read during the captivity any farther explanation. When the London Polyglot was put to press no Targum was found on the two books of Chronicles ; but after that work was printed, a Targum on these two books was discovered in the university of Cambridge, and printed at Amsterdam, with a Latin translation, 410, 1715, by Mr. D. Wilkins. It is attributed to Rabbi Joseph the Blind, who flourished about A. D. 400.

The Masorets were the most extensive Jewish commentators which that nation could ever boast. The system of punctuation, probably invented by them, is a continual gloss on the Law and Prophets; their vowel points, and prosaic and metrical accents, &c., give every word to which they are affixed a peculiar kind of meaning, which in their simple state multitudes of them can by no means bear. The vowel points alone add whole conjugations to the language. This system is one of the most artificial, particular, and extensive comments ever written on the word of God; for there is not one word in the Bible that is not the subject of a particular gloss through its influence. This school is supposed to have commenced about 450 years before our Lord, and to have extended down to A. D. 1030. Some think it did not commence before the fifth century.

Rabbi SAADIAS Gaon, about A. D. 930, wrote a commentary upon Daniel, and some other parts of Scripture ; and translated in a literal and very faithful manner the whole of the Old Testament into the Arabic language. The Pentateuch of this translation has been printed by Erpenius, Lugd. Bat. 1622, 4to.

A MS. сор of Saadias's translation of the Pentateuch, probably as old as the author, is now in my own library.

Rabbi Solomon Jarchi or Isaaki, who flourished in A. D. 1140, wrote a commentary on the whole Bible, so completely obscure in many places, as to require a very large comment to make it intelligible.

In 1160 Aben Ezra, a justly celebrated Spanish rabbin, flourished ; his commentaries on the Bible are deservedly esteemed both by Jews and Gentiles.

Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, commonly called Maimonides, also ranks high among the Jewish commentators ; his work entitled Moreh Nebochim, or Teacher of the Perplexed, is a very excellent illustration of some of the most difficult words and things in the sacred writings. He flourished about A. D. 1160.

Rabbi David Kimchi, a Spanish Jew, wrote a very useful comment on most books of the Old Testament: his comment on the Prophet Isaiah is peculiarly excellent. He flourished about A. D. 1220.

Rabbi Jacob Baal HATTURIM flourished A. D. 1300, and wrote short notes or observations on the Pentateuch, principally cabalistical.

Rabbi Levi ben Gershom, a Spanish Jew and physician, died A. D. 1370. He was a very voluminous author, and wrote some esteemed comments on different parts of Scripture, especially the five books of Moses.

Rabbi Isaac ABARBANEL or ABRAVANEL, a Portuguese Jew, who was born A. D. 1437, and died A. D. 1508, also wrote extensive commentaries on the Scriptures, which are highly esteemed by the Jews.

RABBINOO ISAIAH wrote select notes or observations on the books of Samuel.

Rabbi Moses Mendelssohn, a German Jew, born at Dissau, in 1729, was one of the most learned Jews that has Nourished since the days of the prophets; a man to whose vast mental powers was added a very amiable disposition, and truly philanthropic heart. He wrote Nesibut Hashshalom, i. e., the Path of Peace; the five books of Moses, with a commentary, and German translation ; Ritual laws of the Jews; the Psalms of David in verse ; also, on the being of a God; the Immortality of the Soul, and several philosophical works. He died at Berlin in 1786. See a well-written life of this great man by M. Samuels : 8vo. Lond. 1825.

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GENERAL PREFACE. For farther information on the subject of Jewish and rabbinical writers, I must refer my readers to the BIBLIOTHECA MAGNA RABBINICA of Bartolocci, begun in 1675, and finished in 1693, four vols. folio. In this work the reader will find an ample and satisfactory account of all Jewish writers and their works from the giving of the law, A. M. 2513, B. C. 1491, continued down to A. D. 1681. This work is digested in alphabetical order, and contains an account of upwards of 1,300 Jewish authors and their works, with a confutation of their principal objections and blasphemies against the Christian religion; together with frequent demonstrations that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, drawn, not only from the sacred writings, but from those also of the earlier and most respectable rabbins themselves : each of the volumes is enriched with a great variety of dissertations on many important subjects in Biblical literature. This work, left unfinished by its author, was completed by Imbonati, his disciple, who added a fifth volume, entitled Bibliotheca Latino-Hebraica, containing an ample alphabetical account of all the Latin authors who have written either against the Jews or on Jewish affairs. Romæ, 1694. These two works

useful, and the authors may be deservedly ranked among Biblical critics and commentators. Bartolocci was born at Naples in 1613, and died at Rome, where he was Hebrew professor, in 1687. Most of the Jewish comments being written in the corrupt Chaldee dialect, and in general printed

the rabbinical character, which few, even among scholars, care to read, hence they are comparatively but little known. It must be however allowed that they are of great service in illustrating the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic law; and of great use to the Christians in their controversies with the Jews.

As some of my readers may wish to know where the chief of these comments may be most easily found, it will give them pleasure to be informed that the Targums or Chaldee paraphrases of ONKELos and Jonathan; the Targum YERUSHLEMEY; the Masorah; the comments of Radak, i. e. Rabbi David Kimchí; Rashi, i. e. Rabbi Solomon Jarchi; RalBAG, i. e. Rabbi Levi ben Gershom ; Rambam, i.e. Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, or Maimonides; Rashag, i. e. Rabbi Saadias Gaon ; ABEN Ezra, with the scanty observations of Rabbi Jacob BAAL HATTURÍM, on the five books of Moses and those of Rabbi Ísarah on the two books of Samuel, are all printed in the second edition of Bomberg's Great Bible: Venice, 1547, &c., 2 vols. folio ; the most useful, the most correct, and the most valuable Hebrew Bible ever published. It may be just necessary to say, that Radak, Rashi, Ralbag, &c., are technical names given to these rabbins from the initials of their proper names, with some interposed vowels, as RaDaK, stands for Rabbi David Kimchi; Rashi, for Rabbi Solomon Jarchi; RalBaG, for Rabbi Levi Ben Gershom; and so of the rest. The Taro gums of Onkelos and Jonathan are printed also in the three first volumes of the London Polyglot; with a generally correct literal Latin version. The Targum ascribed to Jonathan ben Uzziel, and the Targum Yerushlemey on the Pentateuch, are printed with a literal Latin version, in the fourtii volume of the above work.

The Mishnah has been printed in a most elegant manner by Surenhusius : Amsterdam, 1698, 6 vols. folio, with a Latin translation, and an abundance of notes.

Christian commentators, both ancient and modern, are vastly more numerous, more excellent, and better known, than those among the Jews. On this latter account I may be well excused for passing by many which have all their respective excellences, and mentioning only a few out of the vast multitude, which are either more eminent, more easy of access, or better known to myself.

These comments may be divided into four distinct classes : 1. Those of the Primitive Fathers and Doctors of the Church ; 2. Those written by Roman Catholics ; 3. Those written by Protestants, and, 4. Compilations from both, and collections of Biblical critics.

Class I.-PRIMITIVE FATHERS AND Doctors. Tatian, who flourished about A. D. 150, wrote a Harmony of the four Gospels, perhaps the first thing of the kind ever

composed : the genuine work is probably lost, as that extant under his name is justly suspected by the learned.

In this class Origen occupies a distinguished place: he was born A. D. 185, and wrote much on the Scriptures: his principal works are unfortunately lost: many of his Homilies still remain, but they are so replete with metaphorical and fanciful interpretations of the sacred text, that there is much reason to believe they have been corrupted since his time. Specimens of his mode of interpreting the Scriptures may be seen in the ensuing comment. See on Exod. ii.

Hyppolitus wrote many things on the Scriptures, most of which are lost: he flourished about A. D. 230.

Chrysostom is well known and justly celebrated for his learning, skill, and eloquence, in his Homilies on the sacred writings, particularly the Psalms. He flourished A. D. 344

JEROME is also well known: he is author of what is called the Vulgate, a Latin version from the Hebrew and Greek of the whole Old and New Testaments, as also of a very valuable comment on all the Bible. He flourished A. D. 360.

EPHRAIM Syrus, who might be rather said to have mourned than to have flourished about A. D. 360, has written some very valuable expositions of particular parts of Scripture. They may be ound in his works, Syr. and Gr., published by Asseman, Romæ, 1737, &c., 6 vols. folio. VOL. I.

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