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THE learned and worthy Author originally composed the following Treatise for the private use of those theological pupils, who studied under his own direction; and it is now offered to the public, as deserving the perusal of all who would obtain an intimate acquaintance with the sacred oracles, especially with the Old Testament; as well as of those whose profession leads them more directly to the study of divinity. Many passages of the word of God are here skilfully explained and illustrated, and many more may be so, by a judicious application of that knowledge of Jewish Antiquities, which is comprised in these Lectures. The representation made in them of the rites, customs, and opinions of the Jews, chiefly respects those which are found in Scripture; for the clear understanding of which, besides carefully examining and comparing the accounts given in the sacred code, and deriving as much light as possible from that fountain, the Author hath called in the assistance of Josephus and Philo, and, on some occasions, of the Jewish rabbies, as well as of a great
variety of other writers, both ancient and modern, who have treated concerning the Jews and their affairs. Of the rabbinical writers he had indeed a very mean opinion, both in respect to the credit due to them, as relaters of ancient facts, or of established customs and opinions; and in respect to their judgment, as interpreters of Scripture. Maimonides, AbenEzra, and Abarbanel, are the most eminent of this class, and almost the only persons amongst them who discover a judicious and rational turn of mind. Of Maimonides in particular it is said, that he was the first Jew who ceased to trifle, "qui desiit desipere." But even these authors, though more respectable than most of their brethren, come too late to have much stress laid upon their report of the sentiments and practices of the ancient Jews, if not supported or countenanced by Scripture, or by some other writer of more antiquity and greater authority than themselves.
Though the learned Author chose to execute his design upon the plan of the three first books of Godwin's Moses and Aaron, his work, nevertheless, doth not consist of detached remarks on the text of that writer, but of distinct and complete dissertations on the subjects treated of by him, and on some others which he hath omitted; insomuch that it is not necessary to have recourse continually to Godwin, in the perusal of the following volume; which must have been the reader's disagreeable task, had this work been a collection of short notes and observations. In one or two places, the Editor hath taken the liberty of inscrting, either from Godwin or from Hottinger's Notes upon him, what seemed necessary to complete