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102. The Egyptian hieroglyphics being in high eftimation, the symbols employed in them probably gave occasion to some of the common metaphors of the East; and, if such metaphors are found in Scripture, the knowledge of these symbols will serve for determining their meaning.
17. “ There shall come a far out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel." Hierogl. “ a godking.
103. The invention of alphabetical writing has always been, with reason, considered as a very great effort of human genius. Whether it was wholly owing to that, or partly also to a divine original ? who was the author of it? whether Adam, or Abraham, or Mofes, or the Assyrians, or the Phenicians, or the Egyptians ?-are questions which have been moved, but which cannot, perhaps, be answered with any degree of certainty. *
Walton, Prol. 2. 1–7. Blair, ib. L. 7.
104. It is certain, however, that Moses was acquainted with alphabetical writing, and used it in the Pentateuch.
105. It has been made a question, What were the original Hebrew characters ? Some contend that they were the fame with the present ; others maintain, and perhaps with better reason, that these are properly the
Chaldean * Sea Wakefieldi Efsay or arbobelised character, addraged to the Manchester Literay sonety
Chaldean characters, which the Jews had learned during their captivity at Babylon, and used ever since ; and, that their ancient characters, in which the Scriptures were originally written, were the Phenician, or what are now called the Samaritan, at least very
little different from them.
Rabbins in general. Buxt. Lightfoot in Mat. iv, Schultene.
Robertson, Gram. Heb. Append. I. Hieronym. Morinus. Capellus. Bochart, Phaleg. Walton, Prol. 2. $ 8. and 3. $ 29-37. Simon, V. T. 1. 1. c. 13.
Ken. Diss. 2. p. 146, &c. Wilson's Heb. Gram. c. 1.
106. The Phenicians used the same characters with Moses and the ancient Hebrews; and Cadmus carried thence the Alphabet with him into Greece, where, their most ancient letters very much resembled the Samaritan, and bore plain marks of being derived from them, though they have been gradually altered till they came to their present forñn. Walton, Prol. 2. 4, 6, 9, &c. Ken, ib. Wilson, ib. Blair,
Of the Hebrew Vowel Points and Accents, and the
Greek Spirits and Accents.
107. The question that has been much agitated, concerning the antiquity and the authority of the present vowel points, is of considerable importance, with respect both to the understanding of the Hebrew language, and to the determining of the sense of Scripture.
108. The Jews agree that the reading and the sense fixed by these points, is universally the genuine; and their common opinion is, that they were first used by Ezra, and continued ever since; but, some of them hold, that only the consonants were written, and the proper vowels handed down by oral tradition till about 500 years after Christ, when they were first expressed in writing by the present marks.
Elias Levita, Præf. 3. in Mall. Ham.
109. Among Christians, some maintain, that the vowel points, in their present figure ; fome, that at least marks equivalent to these, were always in use, and were affixed as they now stand by Ezra, and consequently are of divine authority, and everywhere determine the true reading and the true fenfe. Others
think that they were, long after that time, invented or adopted by the Jewish critics, called the Masoretes ; that, therefore, they are merely of human authority, have been often wrong placed, and give a false reading and a false sense, which may be departed from, whenever the analogy of the language, or the connexion, gives reason for doing so. Buxt. Tiberias. Buxt. de Antiq. punctorum.
. Leusden. Philol. Heb. Hottinger. Thef. Philol. Schultens, Inftit. Gram. Heb. Robertson, Gram. Heb. Append. 2. and 3. Capell. arcan. punctuat. Walton, Prol, 3. § 38-56. Simon, V. T. l. 1. c. 27. Prideaux, Connex. P. 1. b. 5. Masclef. Lowth's Isaiah, Prelim. Differt. p. 54. Wilson, Heb. Gram. C. 1, 2.
110. That the vowel points are modern, and of human invention, is argued from many topics : there are none such used to this day in the Samaritan Pentateuch, nor were they anciently used in any other of the oriental languages.
111. The copies of the Scriptures, used in the Jewish fynagogues, are constantly written without points ; a practice which could never have been introduced, if they had been original to the language, or of divine authority.
112. All the ancient various readings which have been marked by the Jews, regard only the letters, not one of them the vowel points; which could not have happened, if these had been then in use.
113. The ancient cabbalists draw all their myfte« ries and allegories from the letters, none of them from the vowel points, which they could not have neglected if they had been acquainted with them, as they would have been copious fources of the conceits in which they delighted.
114. It appears, from the ancient versions, that they all read the text, in many places, differently from what it is now fixed to by the vowel points; and therefore had it without them.
115. There is no mention made of the vowel points by any of the ancient Jewish writers, though they had often the most natural occasions for it, if they had been acquainted with them; for the books Bahir and Zohar, alleged in opposition, have been proved not to be very ancient.
116. Neither is there a hint of vowel points by any of the ancient Christian writers, for several centuries; not even by Jerome, though he often takes notice of different pronunciations of Hebrew words ; but it is always only in reference to the letters.
117. There seems to be sufficient evidence, that the present vowel points were introduced, probably in imitation of the Arabians, who had refined much on their own language, after the Hebrew had ceased to be a living tongue, in order to facilitate the reading of it; and that they were gradually brought to their present state, between the fifth and the tenth century.