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true name of it was Onium ; which was so similar to the antient On or Heliopolis, that it began to obtain that name. This was caught at, and propagated industriously. Many of the Jews were very averse to the erecting this temple; and held it as much in abhorrence as that on mount Gerizim. For the sake of such the prophecy was appealed to; and, with a very slight alteration, made to speak a language to the purpose. And, to give the place a proper antiquity, they pretended it was called Heliopolis of old; inserting in the translation of the ** Seventy, among the cities built by the Israelites for Pharaoh, “ On, which is Heliopolis.” Which name however it never received, till after it was
21 The translation of the Seventy is certainly of great service, and should be allowed its weight. But, as it ought not to be undervalued ; so neither should it be over-rated, nor brought into competition with the original. In the preface to the Vatican copy, published at Rome, the editors speak of the first translators as inspired-persons. Constat enim eos Interpretes, natione quidem Judæos, doctos verè Græcè-Spiritu Sancto plenos, sacra Biblia interpretatos esse. And again; Septuaginta Interpretum editioinstinctu quodam divinitatis elaborata.-Septuaginta Interpretes Spiritûs Sancti auctoritatem secuti ediderunt. After all, there are many gross mistakes in it: and it not only varies sometimes from the Hebrew, but from itself; the interpretation being neither uniform nor true. This translation is supposed to have been made in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus : but it certainly was not all donc at one time, nor by the same hand. See Prideaux's Conhection. part. II, book. I.
built'; and then, through a mistake that they took advantage of. So that this prophecy was never thought of previous to its being founded; nor introduced to encourage the work: but was made use of by Onias and his friends to establish the temple when finished, and to sanctify their proceeding.
That it was generally called Onium, may be likewise gathered from the strange mistake that took its rise from this name. For the Greeks in Egypt, hearing that the chief temple of the Jews was called Onior, Onium ; and, as I have often observed, catching at every similitude of sound; imagined that this name was derived from the Greek word ovos; which in their language is well known to signify a particular animal. They therefore concluded that they had found out the secret object of the Jewish worship; and that all their devotion was paid to an
This notion was soon propagated : and it was asserted, that in the vestibule of every Jewish temple there was an ass's head. Hence those satyrical verses;
a jura, verpe, per Ancharium ; i. e. asinum.
Tanaq. Fabr. Epist. Criticæ. Spanheim is of a contrary opinion; and Has&us in his treatise de Onolatreia, which I have not seen.
23 Mart. lib. 11. Epigr. 95.
and in another place,
24 Judæus licet et porcinum numen adoret,
Et Cilli summas devocet auriculas ; sc. asini.
Nor did this ridicule stop here: it reached even the Christians; between whom and the Jews there was a wide disparity: but the Greeks did not trouble themselves to find out the difference. Hence arose that idle and blasphemous notion about the God of the Christians, Deus Christianorum Onochoirites; and the title that was given them of Asinarii. They likewise had the credit, as well as the Jews, of having an ass's head in their churches for an object of their worship. All which took its rise from the name of this temple, and the mistakes in consequence of it.
As this temple was built in imitation of that at Jerusalem, so it survived it not long : and there seems to have been something extraordinary in its catastrophe. Our blessed Saviour and the prophets had foretold the ruin of the Jewish nation, and the destruction of their temple at Jerusalem : which temple Vespasian had been very desirous of saving, but could not prevent its being destroyed. For it was the determined will of God, which he had declared by the prophets, that the daily sacrifice should cease, and the Jewish polity be no more. If the temple of Onias had remained, this decree inight in some measure have appeared to have been evaded; and the prophecies would have been rendered less complete. It was situated so remotely; and was so obscure, that one would have imagined it could not have alarmed the jealousy of the Romans, nor have deserved their notice. Vespasian, however, was moved to destroy it; and, hearing of some disturbances among the Jews, gave orders for its as demolition : acting herein as an instrument of God's vengeance, to the consummation of these prophecies upon the Jewish nation; which were thus far fully completed.
24 Petron. Fragmenta. ·