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Greeks ; whence it comes that, in St. Paul's Epistles, Greek and Gentile signify the same thing.'
The Jews could not be so mixed with the Greeks without the latter, who were very curious at that time, getting some knowledge of their religion and laws, especially after the translation of the sacred Books. Their wise men and true philosophers held them in great esteem, as we may learn by what Strabo wrote about them long after. All admired the magnificence of their temple, and exact order of their ceremonies. Agrippa himself, son-in-law of Augustus, was astonished at it. But most of the Greeks at that time, I mean in the reign of the Macedonians, were not capable of relishing the customs and maxims of the Jews. They were too grave for the people whom the
atic luxury had made effeminate, and whose sole employment was in trifles." There were indeed a great number of philosophers; but most of them contented themselves with only discoursing upon virtue, and exercising themselves in disputation. All the rest of the Greeks were possessed with curiosity, and a fondness for polite literature : some applied themselves to rhetoric, others to poetry and music. Painters, sculptors, and architects, were in great repute. Others spent all their time in gymnastic exercises, to form their bodies and make
'Rom. i. 16. ii. 10, &c.
Strabo, lib. xvi.
Hor. lib. ii. epod. i. 93. “ Greece, having laid aside warfare, began to amuse herself with trifles."
them good wrestlers. Others studied geometry, astronomy, and natural philosophy. There were every where virtuosi, connoisseurs, curious, and idle people of all sorts.
The manners of the Romans were at that time much more solid.' They applied themselves to nothing but agriculture, the knowledge of the laws and war; and willingly left the glory of excelling in curious arts and sciences to the Greeks, that they might have the more time to extend their conquests, and attend the government of their subjects ; making politics, as Virgil says," their principal concern. The Jews were still a great deal more serious, as they made morality and the service of God their chief study. We have a good example of it in the book of Ecclesiasticus, written about
· Romæ dulce diu fuit et solenne reclusá
Manè domo vigilare, clienti promere jura.
Hor. lib, ii. epod. i. 103. " At Rome, it was long a delightful and solemn practice to rise early in the morning, explain the laws to clients to hear lessons of instruction from the aged, and to teach the youth.” * Excudent alii spirantia mollius æra:
Tu regere imperio populos, Romane memento,
Æneid. lib. vi. ver. 848, &c.
the same time. Yet this was the reason that the Greeks looked upon them as an ignorant people, seeing they would learn nothing but their own law. They called them barbarians, as they did all nations that were not Greeks; and despised them more than any other strangers upon account of their religion, which to them appeared austere and absurd. They saw them refrain from debauchery, not out of frugality and policy, but a principle of conscience: this appeared to them too strict; and they were particularly offended at their sabbaths, their fasts, and distinction of meats. They accounted them enemies to all mankind. They live separate from every body else, says a Greek philosopher, having nothing common with us, neither altar, offerings, prayers, nor sacrifices. They are at a greater distance from us than the inhabitants of Susa, Bactria, and India."
We may add to this, that the fear of idolatry made the Jews reject sculpture and painting, (which arts the Greeks held in much esteem) as useless, ridiculous pieces of workmanship, and the fruits of idleness :o which is the reason that idols are so often called vanity in Scripture, to shew they are vain things, which have only a deceitful
Joseph. cont. App. lib. i. c. 4. et lib. ii. c. 6. Orig. cont. Cels. lib. v.
Judæorum mos tristis absurdusque.Tacit. hist. v. init: This is the testimony of an historian who disgraced himself by writing concerning a people of whom he knew nothing; and who is, on this account, properly stiled by Tertullian mendaciorum loquacissimus, the chief of liars.
Philostr, vit. Apol. lib. v. c. 2. • Orig: cont, Cels. lib. iv.
outside, and serve to no manner of good purpose. They are also called an abomination,' because they cannot be sufficiently detested, when we consider the stupidity that attributes the incommunicable name of God to them. For the same reason, the Jews could not hear, without horror, the impious fables with which the Greek poets were filled. Thus they drew upon themselves the hatred of the grammarians, whose profession it was to explain them; and of the rhapsodists, who made a trade of singing their heroic poems in public; and of the actors of tragedies and comedies, and of all others whose livelihood depended upon poetry and false theology.
The Jews indeed made it a rule not to laugh at other nations, nor to say any thing disrespectful of their gods ;' but it was scarcely possible that some word of contempt should not escape from them; Now, how angry must a Greek grammarian have been, if he had heard a Jew repeat a passage out of the Prophets against idols ; if he had heard him assert that Homer was a false prophet and impostor; or ridicule the absurdities that occur in the genealogies, the amours and crimes of their gods ? How could they bear one's shewing an abhorrence of the scandalous impurities of the theatre, and the abominable ceremonies of Bacchus and Ceres : in a word, to hear him maintain that the God of the Jews was the only true God, and that they only, of all the people upon earth, were in pos
Wisdom xiil. 13–19:
Isaiah xliv. 10. Jer. x. 15. : Joseph. cont. App.
session of the true religion and morality? They despised them the more for not knowing how to make learned harangues, or dispute in form ; and because, for a proof of these great truths, they chiefly alleged facts, that is to say, the great miracles that God had wrought in the sight of their fathers. Now the common people among the Greeks did not make any distinction between those miracles and the prodigies which they also related in their fables : and philosophers thought them impossible, because they only reasoned from the laws of nature, which they held to be absolutely fixed and unalterable.'
This being the disposition of the Greeks, they listened the more eagerly to the calumnies of the Phænicians, Egyptians, and other enemies of the Jews : and thence proceeded those impertinent stories which Tacitus tells us so gravely,' when he is explaining the origin of the Jews, and has a mind to act the learned historian; and which are likewise to be met with in Justin, who had had the same information." Strabo does not seem to know much more of the matter, though he treats it more sensibly."
But besides these slanders, which might have been easily overlooked, the Greeks proceeded to violence and persecution. Thus Ptolemy Philopator, after he had lost the battle of Raphia, discharged his wrath upon the Jews; and his son Epiphanes,
Galen de Usu Partium.
· Hist. lib. v. init. Justini Hist. lib. xxxvi. c. 2, §. * Lib. xvi.