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into Egypt; and yet, so little should they be valued or so slight should be the care taken of them, that, comparatively speaking, no man should buy them,
The circumstance, here announced, is remarkable on account of its minuteness ; nor is it less remarkable on account of its accurate completion. When Jerusalem was taken by Titus, the captives above seventeen years of age were sent bound, in great numbers, to the works in Egypt; and those under seventeen years of age were sold as slaves : but so little care was taken of them, that eleven thousand perished for want. And, at a subsequent period, after their last overthrow by Adrian, many thousands of them were sold : while those, who from their inferior quality would fetch no price, were transported into Egypt, where they either perished through famine and shipwreck or were barbarously massacred by the inhabitants *.
(9.) The prophecy finally declares, that the dispersed Jews should become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word, among all nations, whither the Lord should lead them.
Of this unhappy people such has now been notoriously the condition during the space of many centuries. That Christians should have viewed them with detestation, as the murderers of the promised Messiah, may not perhaps be a
Joseph. de bell. Jud. lib. vi. C. 9. § 2. p. 1291. Hieron. in Zachar. c. xi. vol. iii. p. 1774. cited by Bp. Newton.
matter of much wonder. But there is no particular natural reason, why, among the intolerant Mohammedans, they should be more a proverb and a by-word than any other unbelievers in the Koran: and it is wholly unaccountable, on common principles, why they should be viewed in the very same degrading light by pagan nations. Yet so it has ever been : and so, in a great degree, it still is. How should we expect, by any reasoning a priori, that they would be trodden down of the heathen world, who never heard of the Saviour? Behold the Hindoo, at this day, punishing the Jew, without knowing the crime of which he has been guilty *.
2. Such has been the accomplishment of a prophecy, delivered fifteen centuries before the commencement of the predicted desolation : and, in connection with it, we shall find it not uninteresting to hear the sentiments of the Jews themselves respecting their present depressed condition.
Soon after the establishment of Christianity, says one of their writers, the Jewish nation, dispersed since the second destruction of its temple, had totally disappeared. By the light of the flames, which devoured the monuments of its ancient splendour, the conquerors beheld a million of victims dead or expiring on their ruins. The hatred of the enemies of that unfortunate nation raged longer, than the fire which kad consumed its temple : active and relentless, it still pursues and oppresses them in every part of the globe over which they are scattered. Their persecutors delight in their torments too much to seal their doom by a general decree of proscription, which would at once put an end to their burdensome and painful existence. It seems, as if they were allowed to survive the destruction of their country, only to see the most odious and calumnious imputations laid to their charge, to stand as the constant object of the grossest and most shocking injustice, to be as a mark for the insulting finger of scorn and as a sport to the most inveterate hatred: it seems, as if their doom was incessantly to suit all the dark and bloody purposes, which can be suggested by human malignity supported by ignorance and fanaticism. Weighed down by taxes, and forced to contribute more than Christians for the support of society, they had hardly any of the rights which it gives. If a destructive scourge happened to spread havock among the inhabitants of a country, the Jews had poisoned the springs; or those men, cursed by heaven, had, nevertheless, incensed it by their prayers against the nation which they were supposed to hate. Did sovereigns want pecuniary assistance to carry on their wars? The Jews were compelled to give up
* Buchanan's Christ. Researches in Asia. p. 297, 298.
those riches, in which they sought some consolation against the oppressing sense of their abject condition : as a reward
for their sacrifices, they were expelled from the state which they had supported, and were afterwards recalled to be stripped again. Compelled to wear exteriorly the vadges of their abject state, they were every where exposed to the insults of the vilest popu
lace. When from his solitary retreat an enthusiastic hermit had preached the crusades to the nations of Europe, and when a part of its inhabitants left their country to moisten with their blood the plains of Palestine ; the knell of promiscuous massacre tolled before the alarm-bell of war. Millions of Jews were then murdered to glut the pious rage of the crusaders. It was by tearing the entrails of their brethren, that these warriors sought to deserve the protection of heaven. Skulls of men and bleeding hearts were offered, as holocausts, on the altars of that God, who has no pleasure even in the blood of the innocent lamb: and ministers of peace were thrown into a holy enthusiasm by these bloody sacrifices. It is thus, that Basil, Treves, Coblentz, and Cologn, became human shambles. It is thus, that upwards of 400,000 victims of all ages and of both sexes lost their lives at Cesarea and Alexandria,
And is it, after they have experienced such treatment, that they are reproached with their vices? Is it, after being for eighteen centuries the sport of contempt, that they are reproached with being no longer alive to it? Is it, after having so often glutted with their blood the thirst of their persecutors, that they are held out as enemies to other nations? Is it, when they have been bereft of all means to mollify the hearts of their tyrants, that indignation is roused, if now and then they cast a mournful look towards the ruins of their temple, towards their country, where formerly happiness crowned their peaceful days, free from the cares of ambition and of riches ?
Since the light of philosophy began to dawn over. Europe, our enemies have ceased to satisfy their revenge with the sacrifice of our lives. Jews are no longer seen, who, generously refusing to bend under the yoke of intolerance, were led with solemn pomp to the fatal pile. But, although the times of these barbarous executions are past long ago, although the hearts of sovereigns are now strangers to this cruelty ; yet slavery itself and prejudices are still the same. By what crimes have we then deserved this furious intolerance ? What is our guilt ? Is it in that generous constancy, which we have manifested in defending the laws of fathers? But this constancy ought to have entitled us to the admiration of all nations, and it has only sharpened against us the daggers of persecution: Braving all kinds of torments, the pangs of death, the still more terrible pangs of life, we long have withstood the impetuous torrent of time, sweeping indiscriminately in its course nations, religions, and countries. What is become of those celebrated empires, whose very name still excites our admiration by the ideas of splendid greatness attached to them, and whose power embraced the whole surface of the known globe? They are only remembered as monuments of the vanity of human greatness. Rome and Greece are no more: their descendants, mixed with other nations, have last even the traces of their origin; while a population of a few millions of men, so often subjugated, stands the test of thirty revolving centuries and the
fiery ordeal of thirteen centuries of persecution! We still serve laws, which were given to us in the first days of