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and Diana, should think that the temple of either of them, though in ruins, was impure? and that he should shew greater deference for the Jehovah of Israel, than for 805 marewos, the god of his country? It would have been happy for Ptolemy, if these had been his sentiments. There is something contradictory in the original request of Onias. He complains to Ptolemy of the many ispa, temples, that the Jews had in Egypt; and the ill consequences that ensued upon it: yet makes this his reason for building a temple, " such an one as was at Jerusalem. This plea must be absolutely incomprehensible to any persons who had it addressed to them. How is it possible to conceive that adding to the mischief would remedy the evil? It, surely, required some explanation : as it stands now, it is a paradox.
Besides all this, Josephus does not seem to be consistent with himself; and, if we look farther into his account, we may from his own words find matter sufficient to overturn all his evidence. Let us attend to the history of this affair, as he describes it in another place 8. When Antiochus Epiphanes
17 To build such an one as was at Jerusalem was a bold undertaking.
Ονιας Σιμωνος υιος, εις των εν Ιεροσόλυμους αρχιερεων, φευγων Αντιοχών της Συρίας βασιλεα πολεμεντα τοις Ιεδαιοις, ήκεν εις Αλεξανδρειαν και δεξαμενα Πτολεμαιε φιλοφρονως αυτον, δια την προς Αντιοχον απεχθειαν, εφη συμμαχον αυτω ποιησειν το των Ιεδαιων εθνος, οι σεισθενη
was king of Syria, he raised Alcimus to the office of high priest; though he was not of the race of the priesthood, nor had any title to the preferment. Onias, who clained by right of inheritance, was so irritated at this ill usage, that he fled to Egypt: resolving to throw himself at the feet of Ptolemy Philometor; between whom and Antiochus there subsisted grievous animosities. The king permitted him to come to him, and received him graciously. He told the prince of the great injustice done to him : and begged, as he had been deprived of the priesthood in Judea, that he might be permitted to maintain that character in Egypt : and that the king would give him leave to build nor, somewhere or other, a temple for that purpose. He seconded his plea with a political reason: and assured Pto
αυτε λεγομενοις. Ποιησειν δε τα δυνατα το βασιλεως ομολογησαντος, ηξιωσεν επιτρεσειν αυτω, νεων τε ΠΟΥ της Αιγυπτε κατασκεύασασθαι, και τους πατριους εθεσι θεραπεύειν τον Θεον. Ουτω γαρ Αλιοχα μεν ετι μαλλον εκπολεμωσεσθαι τες Ιεδαιες, τον εν Ιεροσολυμους νεων σεσορθηκοσι προς αυτον δ' ευνοϊκωτερως ήξειν, και πολλες επ' αδεια evoeßeras ùs autoy outdeynger Jas. De Bell. Jud. lib. 7. cap. 10. ο τα αρχιερεως Σιμωνος το δικαιο υιος Ονιας-λαμβανει τοσον εν τω 'Haverodotin vojew, x. t. 2. Zonaras. vol. 1. pag. 207. edit. Paris. 1686. In Heliopolitano pago. Euseb. Chron. lib. 2. This is all a mistake; and Erwvos ůvos both in Josephus and Zonaras is erroneously put for One iros. The former in Antiq. Jud. lib. 13. cap. 3. styles him Ow8 τε αρχιερεως υιος, ομωνυμος δε ων τω πατρι. These different accounts misled the learned Selden to imagine that Josephus spoke of two temples : but it is certain he alludes always to one, Selden de Succes. Pontificum Hebræor. lib. 1. cap. 8.
lemy, that nothing would influence the Jews more in his favour, and wean them more from his enemy and rival, than being permitted to enjoy such a temple. It would necessarily draw many of them into Egypt; and Ptolemy in both places would be sure of their good will and assistance. This was speaking to the purpose. He founded his request on reasons of state; which had more weight with Ptolemy than the testimony of Isaiah could have had, or of all the prophets put together. These two accounts are different, and, I think, not consistent: and from hence we may infer, that the letters quoted by Josephus are not authentic. For if Onias gained access to Ptolemy, so as to lay before him his plea; and (shewing the advantages that would necessarily accrue to the king and his people from the proposal) got his request ratified : this circumstance precludes all epistolary correspondence; and renders the letters, before sufficiently suspected, to be unnecessary and vain. Not a word of what is principally urged in the letters by way of plea is mentioned here; and what is pleaded in this place is omitted in the letters. Yet both means are said to have had the desired effect : which is incredible. For one of the addresses must have been unnecessary, and the account not true: which that was, I leave the reader to judge.
I took notice above of the just censure that Josephus had passed on the Greek writers, for not being sufficiently attentive to the truth; but endea
vouring to make their histories rather agreeable than authentic. I am sorry to say of Josephus, that, as he manifestly imitates the Greeks in other respects, so he too frequently copies them in this: and is liable to have what he imputes to them retorted upon himself. He is too apt to accommodate his history to the disposition of the very people he blames: and sometimes does not scruple to see crifice his veracity to the taste of the times that he lived in. This justice must, however, be done him ; that in the main he is a very useful historian: and, in respect to the age he lived in, and the circumstances that came under his own cognizance, he seems to have used great diligence and impartiality; and his accounts are very interesting and true. Hence Bochart's character of him may be fairly admitted : who, after having mentioned some mistakes that he had found in him, concludes, however, with a compliment to his merit. 19 Tot Josephi oqanuatu tam paucis verbis docent illi scriptori fidem non esse temere adhibendam, eum versatur in exoticis. Alioqui enim fatendum est nos illi plurimum eo nomine debere, quòd suæ gentis historiam summâ fide et sedulitate scripserit.
It is manifest from what has preceded, that the place allotted to Onias was not at Heliopolis, as has been pretended. It is called by Josephus and others
19 Geogr. Sacr. pars prior. lib. 2. cap. 26.
xwpa Ovis; and its true situation is described in that passage where Mithridates marches from Pelusium to Memphis. 2 Before he could get to the last place, the Jews of Onium, or the Ons asyojuevmv xwear XATOIX8VTES ,
His rout was not through the land of Egypt; but, as we are told afterwards, to Axata wegendwr: so that Onium was exterior in respect to Egypt: wbich situation is agreeable to that which is allotted it both in the Itinerary, and by Ptolemy. I have shewn that the
29 Jos. Antiq. Jud. lib. 14. cap. 8. We find that the Jews at Heliopolis (the same as Onium) were so very numerous, that they withstood Mithridates Pergamenus at the head of his army, and disputed with him the passage into Egypt : διεκωλυον οι Ιεδαιον Αιγυπτιοι, δεν την Ουα λεγομενην χωραν κατοικεντες. Such was the state of the place, which was inhabited by the Jews. Let us turn to the other city of the samc name. Strabo paid a visit to it, and speaks of its former splendor: but says that, when he saw it, it was quite ruinous and desolate: νυνι μεν ουν επι πανερημος η πολις. vol. 2. pag. 1158. He could not have said this, if it had been the place where the Jews lived, and were so numerous. He moreover mentions the antient temple at Heliopolis, and the apart. ments of the priests, and particularly those where Plato and Eudorus studied; but speaks of the whole as little frequented. Some few priests remained ; but of a lower denomination, who still sacrificed there, and performed the more servile offices: but the antient priesthood and college were no more. Could this possibly be the place where the Jews founded their temple? where the law of Moses was observed, and the Jewish rites cele'brated ? It is plain that there were two places of the same name; and that Onium was not the antient Heliopolis,