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Western Jews, on the restoration of the Persian monarchy, for the province had, now been again brought under the Roman dominion by the conquests of Verus, the Patriarch of Tiberias maintained his uncontested supremacy over the whole Jewish commonalty. In the preceding history, both in the object and the manner in which it was conducted, we are almost tempted to inquire whether it is not a a scene borrowed from the annals of the Papal Church.
But before we describe the re-establishment of the Resch-Glutha, or Prince of the Captivity, in all the state and splendour of an oriental sovereign, far outshining, at least in pomp, his rival sovereign in Tiberias, we return to the West to trace the his. tory of the Palestinian Jews, as connected with that of their Roman masters. During all the later conflicts with Rome, the Samaritans had escaped by quiet submission the miseries which had so perpetually fallen on their more unruly brethren; they had obtained the rights of Roman citizenship for their fidelity. During the first establishment of the Rabbinical dominion at Tiberias, its chiefs had displayed an unprecedented degree of liberality towards their once detested neighbours. Though they sarcastically denominated them “the proselytes of the lions," yet they would inhabit the same city, sleep in the same house, eat at the same table, and even partake of animals which they had killed. This unusual mildness rested on the authority of R. Akiba, and seems to strengthen the suspicion that it was grounded on policy, and that the enterprising Rabbi had laid a deliberate scheme of uniting in one league all who claimed Jewish descent. But this amity between the two hostile sects was but transient. One Rabbi declared that it was better to use water for an offering than Samaritan wine. Another, in their own city, openly accused them of worshipping idols on Gerizim; he hardly escaped A. C. 194.] THE EMPEROR SEVERUS. 131 with his life. Political circumstances increased the Jealousies, which at last broke out into open hostilities, and opportunities occurred in which they might commit mutual acts of violence, without the interference of the ruling powers.
In one of the great contests for the empire, they espoused opposite parties. The Samaritans, unfortunately for themselves, were on the losing side. Pescennius Niger had assumed the purple in Syria. The Jews presented a petition for the reduction of their taxation. “Ye demand,” said the stern Roman, "exemption from tribute for your soil; I will lay it on the air you breathe.” The Samaritans took up arms for Niger, the Jews threw themselves into the party of Severus. That able general soon triumphed over all opposition, and severely punished the partisans of his rival: The Samaritans forfeited their privilege of Roman citizenship. The presence of the emperor overawed the conflicting factions, though Severus himself was in great danger from a daring robber of the country, named Claudius, who boldly rode into his camp, saluted and embraced him, and before orders could be given for his seizure, had escaped. Severus celebrated a Jewish triumph, probably on account of the general pacification of the province. His laws were favourable to the Jews. The edict of Antonine was re-enacted, though still with its limitation against circumcising proselytes. The Jews were permitted to undertake the tutelage of Pagans, which shows that they had still the privileges of Roman citizenship, and they were exempt from burthens incompatible with their religion. Still they were interdicted from approaching the walls of the Holy City, and their general condition is thus described by Tertullian, who wrote during the reign of Severus. “ Dispersed and vagabond, exiled from their native soil and air, they wander over the face of the earth, without a king, either human or divine; and even as strangers they
are not permitted to salute with their footsteps their native land.”
The Jews and Christians contest the honour of having furnished a nurse to the fratricide son of Severus, Caracalla.* If this tyrant indeed sucked the milk of Christian gentleness, his savage disposition turned it to gall. According to the Rabbini. cal legends, he was so attached to his Jewish play. mates, as to have shed tears when one of them was whipped by order of the emperor. Indeed, for several reigns, Judaism might boast its influence on the imperial throne. Among the strange medley of foreign superstitions with which the filthy Helioga. balus offended even the easy and tolerant religion of his Roman subjects, he adopted the Jewish usages of circumcision and abstinence from swine's flesh. And, in the reign of the good Alexander Severus, that beautiful oasis in the desert of this period of the imperial history, the Jews enjoyed the equal protection and the favour of the virtuous sovereign. Abraham, as well as Christ, had his place in the emperor's gallery of divinities, or men worthy of divine honours. Alexander was even called the Father of the Synagogue.
In the mean time, the Patriarchal throne had been ascended by the most celebrated of the Rabbinical sovereigns; Jehuda, sometimes called the Nasi or Patriarch, sometimes the Holy, sometimes emphatically the Rabbi, succeeded his father, Simon son of Gamaliel. Jehuda is 'said to have been born on the
Jost, in his " Geschichte der Israeliten seit der zeit der Maccabaer," conceives that the strange stories in the Jewish writers, about the intercourse between one of the Antonines, most assert the first, the Pious, with the head of the Sanbedrin of Tiberias, and his secret Judaism, are grounded on this tale of Caracalla. We take the opportunity of erpressing our obligation to this work, which has been of the greatest use in the composition of this last volume of our History. We differ from Jost, who is a pupil of Eichhorn, on many points, particularly the composition of the older Scriptures; but we gladly bear testimony to the high value of his work, which, both in depth of research and arrangement, is far superior to the desultory, and by no means trustworthy, volumes of Basnage.
JEHUDA THE HOLY.
133 day on which R. Akiba died; an event predicted, according to his admirers, in the verse of Solomon. “One sun ariseth, and one sun goeth down." Akiba was the setting—Jehuda the dawning sun. He was secretly circumcised, in defiance of the law of Hadrian. His whole life was of the most spotless purity; hence he was called the Holy, or the Holiest of the Holy. R. Jehuda was the author of a new constitution to the Jewish people. He imbodied in the celebrated Mischna, or Code of traditional Law, all the authorized interpretations of the Mosaic Law, the traditions, the decisions of the learned, and the precedents of the courts or schools. It is singular that this period is distinguished by the labours of the great Roman lawyers, in the formation of a code of jurisprudence for the whole empire. It might seem as if the Jews, constituting thus, as it were, an imperium in imperio, a state within a state, were ambitious of providing themselves with their own Pandects, either in emulation of their masters, or lest their subjects might discover the superior advantage of a written code, over the arbitrary decisions of the Rabbinical interpreters of their original polity. The sources from which the Mischna was derived, may give a fair view of the nature of the Rabbinical authority, and the manner in which it had superseded the original Mosaic constitution. The Mischna was grounded, 1. On the written Law of Moses. 2. On the oral Law, received by Moses on Mount Sinai; and handed down, it was said, by uninterrupted tradition. 3. The decisions or maxims of the Wise Men. 4. Opinions of particular indi. viduals on which the Schools were divided, and which still remained open. 5. Ancient usages and customs. The distribution of the Mischna affords a curious exemplification of the intimate manner in which the religious and civil life of the Jews were interwoven, and of the authority assumed by the Law over every transaction of life. The first book
considers the people as cultivators of the soil, and appears to imply that they were still, to a consider. able extent, landed proprietors in Palestine. It regulates all affairs of husbandry; trees, fruits, seeds &c. The second book relates to festivals and holydays. The third contains the statutes relating to marriage and the female sex. The fourth considers the Jew chiefly in his commercial eharacter; it defines the law of property, exchange, damage, loss, restitution. The fifth treats of holy things, oblations, vows, &c. The sixth on things clean and unclean.
As the object of this great work was to fix, once for all, on undoubted authority, the whole umwritten Law, some of the more zealous Rabbins reprobated this measure of Jehuda the Holy, as tending to supersede or invalidate their own personal weight. But the multiplication of written statutes enlarges rather than contracts the province of the lawyer; a new field was opened for ingenuity, and comment was speedily heaped upon the Mischna, till it was buried under its weight, as the Mosaic Law had been before by the Mischna. The interpreters of the Mischna assumed a particular name, the Tanaim. In fact, the acknowledgment of the Mischna as a sort of new constitution, powerfully contributed to the maintenance of the Rabbinical authority after the fall of the Patriarchate and the extinction of the schools. It threw back the written Law into a sort of reverential and mysterious obscurity. Never was such honour paid to the books of Moses as by the Rabbins of Tiberias, or such labour employed in their preservation; every letter was counted, every dot, every iota sanctified, as perhaps of the deepest import; but they were dark oracles, whose profound meaning could not be caught by the vulgar ear; while the formal, and as it were constitutional, recognition of the unwritten Law, as innbodied in the Mischna, became the popular and practical code,