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To visualize the Hebrew language, written from right to left, it is necessary to have Hebrew font in your pc (bwhebb, see Homepage).







The origin of speech is generally unknown. It is in vain that savants of the centuries past have endeavoured to go back to the hidden principles of this glorious phenomenon which distinguishes man from all the beings by which he is surrounded, reflects his thought, arms him with the torch of genius and develops his moral faculties; all that they have been able to do, after long labours, has been to establish a series of conjectures more or less ingenious, more or less probable, founded in general, upon the physical nature of man which they judged invariable, and which they took as basis for their experiments. I do not speak here of the scholastic theologians who in order to extricate themselves from perplexity upon this difficult point, taught that man had been created possessor of a tongue wholly formed; nor of Bishop Walton who, having embraced this convenient opinion, gave as proof, the conversation of God Himself with the first man, and the discourses of Eve with the serpent 1; not reflecting that this so-called serpent which conversed with Eve, and to which God also spoke, might, therefore, have drawn from the same source of speech and participated in the tongue of the Divinity. I refer to those savants who, far from the dust and clamours of the school, sought in good faith the truth that the school no longer possessed. Moreover, the theologians themselves had been abandoned long since by their disciples. Richard Simon, the priest, 2 from whom we have an excellent critical history of the Old Testament, did not fear, relying upon the authority of Saint Gregory of Nyssa, to reject theological opinion in this respect, and to adopt that of Diodorus Siculus and even that of Lucretius, who attribute the formation of language to the nature of man and to the instigation of his needs.3

It is not because I here oppose the opinion of Diodorus Siculus or Lucretius to that of the theologians, that one should infer that I consider it the best. All the eloquence of J. J. Rousseau could not make me approve of it. It is one extreme striking another extreme, and by this very thing departing from the just mean where truth abides. Rousseau in his nervous, passionate style, pictures the formation of society rather than that of language: he embellishes his fictions with most vivid colours, and he himself, drawn on by his imagination, believes real what is only fantastic.4 One sees plainly in his writing a possible beginning of civilization but no probable origin of speech. It is to no purpose that he has said that the meridional tongues are the daughters of pleasure and those of the North, of necessity: one still asks, how pleasure or necessity can bring forth simultaneously, words which an entire tribe agrees in understanding and above all agrees in adopting. Is it not he who has said, with cold, severe reason, that language could be instituted only by an agreement and that this agreement could not be conceived without language? This vicious circle in which a modern theosophist confines it, can it be eluded? "Those who devote themselves to the pretension of forming our tongues and all the science of our understanding, by the expedients of natural circumstances alone, and by our human means alone," says this theosophist,5 "expose themselves voluntarily to this terrible objection that they themselves have raised; for he who only denies, does not destroy, and he does not refute an argument because he disapproves of it: if the language of man is an agreement, how is this Agreement established without language?" Read carefully both Locke and his most painstaking disciple Condillac;6 you will, if you desire, have assisted at the decomposition of an ingenious contrivance; you will have admired, perhaps, the dexterity of the decomposer; but you will remain as ignorant as you were before, both concerning the origin of this contrivance, the aim proposed by its author, its inner nature and the principle which moves its machinations. Whether you reflect according to your own opinion, or whether long study has taught you think according to others, you will soon perceive in the adroit analyst only a ridiculous operator who, flattering himself that he is explaining to you how and why such an actor dances in the theatre, seizes a scalpel and dissects the legs of a cadaver. Your memory recalls Socrates and Plato. You hear them again rebuking harshly the physicists and the metaphysicians of their time;7 you compare their irresistible arguments with the vain jactancy of these empirical writers, and you feel clearly that merely taking a watch to pieces does not suffice to give reason for its movement.

But if the opinion of the theologians upon the origin of speech offends reason, if that of the historians and the philosophers cannot hold out against a severe examination, it is therefore not given to man to know it. Man, who according to the meaning of the inscription of the temple of Delphi8 , can know nothing only so far as he knows himself, is therefore condemned to be ignorant of what places him in the highest rank among sentient beings, of what gives him the sceptre of the earth, of what constitutes him veritably man, namely Speech! no! that cannot be, because Providence is just. Quite a considerable number of the sages among all nations have penetrated this mystery, and if, notwithstanding their efforts, these privileged men have been unable to communicate their learning and make it universal, it is because the means, the disciples or the favourable conditions for this, have failed them.

For the knowledge of speech, that of the elements and the origin of language, are not attainments that can be transmitted readily to others, or that can be taken to pieces after the manner of the geometricians. To whatever extent one may possess them, whatever profound roots they may have thrown into the mind, whatever numerous fruits they may have developed there, only the principle can ever be communicated. Thus, nothing in elementary nature is propagated at the same time: the most vigorous tree, the most perfect animal do not produce simultaneously their likeness. They yield, according to their specie, a germ at first very different from them, which remains barren if nothing from without cooperates for its development.

The archaeological sciences, that is to say, all those which go back to the principles of things, are in the same category. Vainly the sages who possess them are exhausted by generous efforts to propagate them. The most fertile germs that they scatter, received by minds uncultivated or badly prepared, undergo the fate of seeds, which falling upon stony ground or among thorns, sterile or choked die there. Our savants have not lacked aid; it is the aptitude for receiving it that has been lacking. The greater part of them who ventured to write upon tongues, did not even know what a tongue was; for it is not enough merely to have compiled grammars, or to have toiled laboriously to find the difference between a supine and a gerund; it is necessary to have explored many idioms, to have compared them assiduously and without prejudices; in order to penetrate, through the points of contact of their particular genius, to the universal genius which presides over their formation, and which tends to make only one sole and same tongue.

Among the ancient idioms of Asia, are three that it is absolutely imperative to understand if one would proceed with assurance in the field of etymology and rise by degrees to the source of language. These idioms, that I can justly name tongues, in the restricted meaning which one has given to this word, are Chinese, Sanskrit and Hebrew. Those of my readers who are familiar with the works of the savants of Calcutta and particularly those of Sir William Jones, may perhaps be astonished that I name Hebrew in place of the Arabic from which this estimable writer derives the Hebraic idiom, and which he cites as one of the mother-tongues of Asia. I shall explain my thought in this respect, and at the same time state why I do not name either Persian, or Uigurian Tataric, which one might think I had forgotten.

When Sir William Jones, glancing with observant eye over the vast continent of Asia and over its numerous dependent isles, placed therein the five ruling nations, among which he divided the heritage, he created a geographical tableau of happy conception and great interest that the historian ought not to overlook.9 But in establishing this division his consideration was rather of the power and extent of the peoples that he named, than of their true claims to anteriority; since he did not hesitate to say that the Persians, whom he ranked among the five ruling nations, draw their origin from the Hindus and Arabs,10 and that the Chinese are only an Indian colony;11 therefore, recognizing only three primordial sources, viz., that of the Tatars, that of the Hindus and that of the Arabs.

Although I may not agree wholly with him in this conclusion, I infer nevertheless, as I have already said, that this writer, in naming the five principal nations of Asia, considered their power more than their true rights to anteriority. It is evident, to say the least, that if he had not been obliged to yield to the eclat with which the Arabic name is surrounded in these modern times, due to the appearance of Mohammed, to the propagation of the cult, and of the Islamic empire, Sir William Jones would not have chosen the Arabic people instead of the Hebrew people, thus making the former one of the primordial sources of Asia.

This writer had made too careful a study of the Asiatic tongues not to have known that the names which we give to the Hebrews and to the Arabs, however much dissimilar they may appear, owing to our manner of writing them, are in substance only the same epithet modified by two different dialects. All the world knows that both these peoples attribute their origin to the patriarch Heber12 now, the name of this so-called patriarch, signifies nothing less than that which is placed behind or beyond, that which is distant, hidden, deceptive, deprived of light; that which passes, that which terminates, that which is occidental, etc. The Hebrews, whose dialect is evidently anterior to that of the Arabs, have derived from it hebri and the Arabs harbi, by a transposition of letters which is a characteristic of their language. But whether it be pronounced hebri, or harbi, one or the other word expresses always that the people who bear it are found placed either beyond, or at the extremity, at the confines, or at the occidental borders of a country. From the most ancient times, this was the situation of the Hebrews or the Arabs, relative to Asia, whose name in its primitive root signifies the unique continent, the land, in other words, the Land of God.

If, far from all systematic prejudice, one considers attentively the Arabic idiom, he discovers there the certain marks of a dialect which, in surviving all the dialects emanated from the same branch, has become successively enriched from their debris, has undergone the vicissitudes of time, and carried afar by a conquering people, has appropriated a great number of words foreign to its primitive roots; a dialect which has been polished and fashioned upon the idioms of the vanquished people, and little by little shown itself very different from what it was in its origin; whereas the Hebraic idiom on the contrary (and I mean by this idiom that of Moses), long since extinct in its own country and lost for the people who spoke it, was concentrated in one unique book, where hardly any of the vicissitudes which had altered the Arabic had been able to assail it; this is what distinguishes it above all and what has made it my choice.

This consideration has not escaped Sir William Jones. He has clearly seen that the Arabic idiom, toward which he felt a strong inclination, had never produced any work worthy of fixing the attention of men prior to the Koran,13 which is, besides, only a development of the Sepher of Moses; whereas this Sepher, sacred refuge of the Hebrew tongue, seemed to him to contain, independent of a divine inspiration,14 more true sublimity, exquisite beauties, pure morals, essential history and traits of poetry and eloquence, than all the assembled books written in any tongue and in any age of the world.

However much may be said and however much one may, without doing the least harm to the Sepher, compare and even prefer certain works equally famous among the nations, I affirm that it contains for those who can read it, things of lofty conception and of deep wisdom; but it is assuredly not in the state in which it is shown to the vulgar readers, that it merits such praise. Sir William Jones undoubtedly understood it in its purity and this is what I like to believe.

Besides, it is always by works of this nature that a tongue acquires its right to veneration. The books of universal principles, called King, by the Chinese, those of divine knowledge, called Veda or Beda, by the Hindus, the Sepher of Moses, these are what make illustrious the Chinese, the Sanskrit and the Hebrew. Although Uigurian Tataric may be one of the primitive tongues of Asia, I have not included it as one that should be studied by the student who desires to go back to the principle of speech; because nothing could be brought back to this principle in an idiom which has not a sacred literature. Now, how could the Tatars have had a sacred or profane literature, they who knew not even the characters of writing? The celebrated Genghis Khan, whose empire embraced an immense extent, did not find, according to the best writers, a single man among his Mongols capable of writing his dispatches.15 Tamerlane, ruler in his turn of a part of Asia, knew neither how to read nor write. This lack of character and of literature, leaving the Tataric idioms in a continual fluctuation somewhat similar to that which the rude dialects of the savage peoples of America experienced, makes their study useless to etymology and can only throw uncertain and nearly always false lights in the mind.

One must seek the origin of speech only from authentic monuments, whereon speech itself has left its ineffaceable imprint. If time and the scythe of revolutions had respected more the books of Zoroaster, I doubtless might have compared with the Hebrew, the ancient tongue of the Parsees, called Zend, in which are written the fragments which have come down to us; but after a long and impartial examination, I cannot refrain from believing, notwithstanding all the recognition that I feel for the extraordinary labours of Anquetil-Duperron who has procured them for us, that the book called today, the Zend-Avesta, by the Parsees, is only a sort of breviary, a compilation of prayers and litanies wherein are mingled here and there certain fragments from the sacred books of Zeradosht, the ancient Zoroaster, translated in the living tongue; for this is precisely what the word Zend signifies living tongue. The primitive Avesta was divided into twenty-one parts, called Nosk, and entered into all the details of nature,16 as do the Vedas and Pouranas of the Hindus, with which it had perhaps more affinity than one imagines. The Boun-Dehesh, which Anquetil-Duperron has translated from the Pehlevi, a sort of dialect more modern still than the Zend, appears to be only an abridgment of that part of the Avesta which treated particularly of the origin of Beings and the birth of the Universe.

Sir William Jones, who believes as I do that the original books of Zoroaster were lost, thinks that the Zend, in which are written the fragments that we possess, is a dialect of Sanskrit, in which Pehlevi, derived from the Chaldaic and from the Cimmerian Tatars, has mingled many of its expressions17. This opinion, quite comformable with that of the learned d'Herbelot who carries the Zend and Pehlevi back to Nabataean Chaldaic18, that is, to the most ancient tongue of Assyria, is therefore most probable since the characters of Pehlevi and Zend are obviously of Chaldaic origin.

I do not doubt that the famous inscriptions which are found in the ruins of ancient Isthakr19, named Persepolis by the Greeks, and of which no savant, up to this time, has been able to decipher the characters, belong to the tongue in which the sacred books of the Parsees were originally written before they had been abridged and translated in Pehlevi and Zend. This tongue, whose very name has disappeared, was perhaps spoken at the court of those monarchs of Iran, whom Mohsenal-Fany mentions in a very curious book entitled Dabistan20 and whom he assures had preceded the dynasty of the Pishdadians, which is ordinarily regarded as the earliest.

But without continuing further upon this digression, I believe I have made it sufficiently understood that the study of Zend cannot be of the same interest, nor produce the same results as that of Chinese, Sanskrit or Hebrew, since it is only a dialect of Sanskrit and can only offer sundry fragments of the sacred literature translated from an unknown tongue more ancient than itself. It is enough to make it enter as a sort of supplement in the research of the origin of speech, considering it as a link which binds Sanskrit to Hebrew.

It is the same with the Scandinavian idiom, and the Runic poetry preserved in the Edda21. These venerable relics of the sacred literature of the Celts, our ancestors, ought to be regarded as a medium between the tongues of ancient Asia and that of modern Europe. They are not to be disdained as an auxiliary study, the more so since they are all that remains to us really authentic pertaining to the cult of the ancient Druids, and as the other Celtic dialects, such as Basque, Armoric Breton, Welsh Breton or Cymraeg, possessing no writings, can merit no sort of confidence in the important subject with which we are engaged.

But let us return to the three tongues whose study I recommend: Chinese, Sanskrit and Hebrew; let us glance at them without concerning ourselves for the present, with their grammatical forms; let us fathom their genius and see in what manner they principally differ.

The Chinese tongue is, of all the living tongues today, the most ancient; the one whose elements are the simplest and the most homogeneous. Born in the midst of certain rude men, separated from other men by the result of a physical catastrophe which had happened to the globe, it was at first confined to the narrowest limits, yielding only scarce and material roots and not rising above the simplest perceptions of the senses. Wholly physical in its origin, it recalled to the memory only physical objects: about two hundred words composed its entire lexicon, and these words reduced again to the most restricted signification were all attached to local and particular ideas. Nature, in thus isolating it from all tongues, defended it for a long time from mixture, and when the men who spoke it, multiplied, spread abroad and commingled with other men, art came to its aid and covered it with an impenetrable defense. By this defense, I mean the symbolic characters whose origin a sacred tradition attributes to Fo-Hi. This holy man, says the tradition, having examined the heavens and the earth, and pondered much upon the nature of intermediate things, traced the eight Koua, the various combinations of which sufficed to express all the ideas then developed in the intelligence of the people. By means of this invention, the use of knots in cords, which had been the custom up to that time, ceased22.

Nevertheless, in proportion as the Chinese people extended, in proportion as their intelligence made progress and became enriched with new ideas, their tongue followed these different developments. The number of its words fixed by the symbolic Koua, being unable to be augmented, was modified by the accent. From being particular they became generic; from the rank of nouns they were raised to that of verbs; the substance was distinguished from the spirit. At that time was felt the necessity for inventing new symbolic characters, which, uniting easily, the one with the other, could follow the flight of thought and lend themselves to all the movements of the imagination23. This step taken, nothing further arrested the course of this indigenous idiom, which, without ever varying its elements, without admitting anything foreign in its form, has sufficed during an incalculable succession of ages for the needs of an immense nation; which has given it sacred books that no revolution has been able to destroy, and has been enriched with all the profoundness, brilliancy and purity that moral and metaphysical genius can produce.

Such is this tongue, which, defended by its symbolic forms, inaccessible to all neighbouring idioms, has seen them expiring around it, in the same manner that a vigorous tree sees a host of frail plants, which its shade deprives of the generating heat of day, wither at its feet.

Sanskrit did not have its origin in India. If it is allowable for me to express my thought without promising to prove it, since this would be neither the time nor the place; I believe that a people much older than the Hindus, inhabiting another region of the earth, came in very remote times to be established in Bharat-Wersh, today Hindustan, and brought there a celebrated idiom called Bali or Pali, many indications of which are found in Singhala, of the island of Ceylon, in the kingdoms of Siam, of Pegu, and in all that part which is called the empire of the Burmans. Everywhere was this tongue considered sacred24. Sir William Jones, whose opinion is the same as mine relative to the exotic origin of Sanskrit, without however giving the Pali tongue as its primitive source, shows that the pure Hindi, originating in Tatary, rude jargon of the epoch of that colonization, has received from some sort of foreign tongue its grammatical forms, and finding itself in a convenient position to be, as it were, grafted by it, has developed a force of expression, harmonious and copious, of which all the Europeans who have been able to understand it speak with admiration25.

In truth, what other tongue ever possessed a sacred literature more widespread? How many years shall yet pass ere Europeans, developed from their false notions, will have exhausted the prolific mine which it offers!

Sanskrit, in the opinion of all the English writers who have studied it, is the most perfect tongue that men have ever spoken26. It surpasses Greek and Latin in regularity as in richness, and Persian and Arabic in poetic conceptions. With our European tongues it preserves a striking analogy that holds chiefly to the form of its characters, which being traced from left to right have served, according to Sir William Jones, as type or prototype of all those which have been and which still are in use in Africa and in Europe.

Let us now pass on to the Hebraic tongue. So many abstract fancies have been uttered concerning this tongue, and the systematic or religious prejudice which has guided the pen of its historians, has so obscured its origin, that I scarcely dare to say what it is, so simple is what I have to say. This simplicity will, nevertheless, have its merit; for if I do not exalt it to the point of saying with the rabbis of the synagogue or the doctors of the Church, that it has presided at the birth of the world, that angels and men have learned it from the mouth of God Himself, and that this celestial tongue returning to its source, will become that which will be spoken by the blessed in heaven; neither shall I say with the modern philosophists, that it is a wretched jargon of a horde of malicious, opinionated, suspicious, avaricious and turbulent men; I shall say without any partiality, that the Hebrew contained in the Sepher, is the pure idiom of the ancient Egyptians.

This truth will not please those prejudiced pro or con, I am certain of this; but it is no fault of mine if the truth so rarely flatters their passions.

No, the Hebraic tongue is neither the first nor the last of the tongues; it is not the only one of the mother-tongues, as a modern theosophist, whom I esteem greatly otherwise, has inopportunely believed, because it is not the only one that has sprung from the divine wonders27; it is the tongue of a powerful, wise and religious people; of a thoughtful people, profoundly learned in moral sciences and friend of the mysteries; of a people whose wisdom and laws have been justly admired. This tongue separated from its original stem, estranged from its cradle by the effect of a providential emigration, an account of which is needless at the moment, became the particular idiom of the Hebrew people; and like a productive branch, which a skillful agriculturist has transplanted in ground prepared for this purpose, so that it will bear fruit long after the worn out trunk whence it comes has disappeared, so has this idiom preserved and brought down to us the precious storehouse of Egyptian learning.

But this storehouse has not been trusted to the caprice of hazard. Providence, who willed its preservation, has known well how to shelter it from storms. The book which contains it, covered with a triple veil, has crossed the torrent of ages respected by its possessors, braving the attention of the profane, and never being understood except by those who would not divulge its mysteries.

With this statement let us retrace our steps. I have said that the Chinese, isolated from their birth, having departed from the simplest perceptions of the senses, had reached by development the loftiest conceptions of intelligence; it was quite the contrary with the Hebrew: this distinct idiom, entirely formed from a most highly perfected tongue, composed wholly of expressions universal, intelligible and abstract, delivered in this state to a sturdy but ignorant people, had, in its hands fallen from degeneracy to degeneracy, and from restriction to restriction, to its most material elements; all that was intelligible had become sentient; all that was universal had become particular.

Sanskrit, holding a sort of mean between the two, since it was the result of a formed tongue, grafted upon an unformed idiom, unfolded itself at first with admirable promptness: but after having, like the Chinese and the Hebrew, given its divine fruits, it has been unable to repress the luxury of its productions: its astonishing flexibility has become the source of an excess which necessarily has brought about its downfall. The Hindu writers, abusing the facility which they had of composing words, have made them of an excessive length, not only of ten, fifteen and twenty syllables, but they have pushed the extravagance to the point of containing in simple inscriptions, terms which extend to one hundred and even one hundred and fifty28. Their vagabond imagination has followed the intemperance of their elocution; an impenetrable obscurity has spread itself over their writings; their tongue has disappeared.

But this tongue displays in the Vedas an economical richness. It is there that one can examine its native flexibility and compare it with the rigidity of the Hebrew, which beyond the amalgamation of root and sign, does not admit of any composition: or, compare it with the facility with which the Chinese allows its words, all monosyllables, to be joined without ever being confused. The principal beauties of this last idiom consist in its characters, the symbolic combination of which offers a tableau more or less perfect, according to the talent of the writer. It can be said without metaphor, that they paint pictures in their discourse29. The written tongue differs essentially from the spoken tongue30. The effect of the latter is very mediocre, and as it were, of no importance; whereas, the former, carries the reader along presenting him with a series of sublime pictures. Sanskrit characters say nothing to the imagination, the eye can run through them without giving the least attention; it is to the happy composition of its words, to their harmony, to the choice and to the blending of ideas that this idiom owes its eloquence. The greatest effect of Chinese is for the eyes; that of Sanskrit, for the ears. The Hebrew unites the two advantages but in a less proportion. Sprung from Egypt where both hieroglyphic and literal characters were used at the same time31, it offers a symbolic image in each of its words, although its sentence conserves in its ensemble all the eloquence of the spoken tongue. This is the double faculty

which has procured for it so much eulogy on the part of those who felt it and so much sarcasm on the part of those who have not.

Chinese characters are written from top to bottom, one under the other, ranging the columns from right to left; those of Sanskrit, following the direction of a horizontal line, going from left to right; Hebraic characters, on the contrary, proceed from right to left. It appears that in the arrangement of the symbolic characters, the genius of the Chinese tongue recalls their origin, and makes them still descend from heaven as, it was said, their first inventor had done. Sanskrit and Hebrew, in tracing their lines in an opposite way, also make allusion to the manner in which their literal characters were invented; for, as Leibnitz very well asserted, everything has its sufficient reason; but as this usage pertains especially to the history of peoples, this is not the place to enter into the discussion that its examination would involve. I shall only observe that the method which the Hebrew follows was that of the ancient Egyptians, as related by Herodotus32. The Greeks, who received their letters from the Phoenicians, wrote also for some time from right to left; their origin, wholly different, made them soon modify this course. At first they traced their lines in forms of furrows, going from right to left and returning alternately from left to right33; afterward, they fixed upon the sole method that we have to-day, which is that of Sanskrit, with which the European tongues have, as I have already said, much analogy. These three styles of writing merit careful consideration, as much in the three typical tongues as in the derivative tongues which are directly or indirectly attached to them. I conclude here this parallelism: to push it further would be useless, so much the more as, not being able to lay before the reader at once the grammatical forms of Chinese, Sanskrit and Hebrew, I should run the risk of not being understood.

If I had felt sure of having the time and the assistance necessary, I should not have hesitated to take first the Chinese, for basis of my work, waiting until later to pass on from Sanskrit to Hebrew, upholding my method by an original translation of the King, the Veda and the Sepher; but being almost certain of the contrary, I have decided to begin with the Hebrew because it offers an interest more direct, more general, more within the grasp of my readers and promises besides, results of an early usefulness. I trust that if the circumstances do not permit me to realize my idea in regard to Sanskrit and Chinese, that there will be found men sufficiently courageous, sufficiently obedient to the impulse which Providence gives toward the perfecting of the sciences and the welfare of humanity, to undertake this laborious work and terminate what I have commenced.






In choosing the Hebraic tongue, I have not been ignorant of any of the difficulties, nor any of the dangers awaiting me. Some knowledge of speech, and of tongues in general, and the unusual course that I had given to my studies, had convinced me long since that the Hebraic tongue was lost, and that the Bible which we possess was far from being the exact translation of the Sepher of Moses. Having attained this original Sepher by other paths than that of the Greeks and Latins, and carried along from the Orient to the Occident of Asia by an impulse contrary to the one ordinarily followed in the exploration of tongues, I saw plainly that the greater part of the vulgar interpretations were false, and that, in order to restore the tongue of Moses in its primitive grammar, it would be necessary to clash violently with the scientific or religious prejudices that custom, pride, interest, the rust of ages and the respect which it attached to ancient errors, concurred in consecrating, strengthening and preserving.

But if one had to listen always to these pusillanimous considerations, what things would ever be perfected? Has man in his adolescence the same needs that he has in his infancy? Does he not change his apparel as well as his nourishment? Are not the lessons of manhood different from those of youth? Do not the savage nations advance toward civilization and those which are civilized toward the acquisition of sciences? Does not one see the cave of the troglodyte make way for the lodge of the hunter, the tent of the herdsman, the hut of the agriculturist, and this cabin transformed successively, thanks to the progressive development of commerce and the arts, into a commodious house, castle, magnificent palace or sumptuous temple? This superb city that we inhabit and this Louvre which spreads before our eyes such rich architecture, do not these all repose upon the same soil where a few miserable hovels of fishermen stood not long ago?

Be not deceived: there are moments indicated by Providence, when the impulse that it gives toward new ideas, undermining precedents useful in their beginning but now superfluous, forces them to yield, even as a skillful architect clears away the rough framework which has supported the arches of his edifice. It would be just as foolish or culpable to attack these precedents or to disturb this framework, when they still support either the social edifice or the particular one, and proceeding, under pretext of their rusticity, their ungracefulness, their necessary obstruction, to overthrow them as out of place; as it would be ridiculous or timid to leave them all there by reason of a foolish or superannuated respect, or a superstitious and condemnatory weakness, since they are of no further use, since they encumber, since they are an obstruction, since they detract from the wisest institutions or the noblest and loftiest structures. Undoubtedly, in the first instance, and following my comparison, either the prince or the architect should stop the audacious ignoramus and prevent him from being buried beneath the inevitable ruins: but in the second instance, they should, on the contrary, welcome the intrepid man who, presenting himself with either torch or lever in hand, offers them, notwithstanding certain perils, a service always difficult.

Had I lived a century or two earlier, even if fortunate circumstances assisted by steadfast labour had placed the same truths within my grasp, I would have kept silent about them, as many savants of all nations have been obliged to do; but the times are changed. I see in looking about me that Providence is opening the portals of a New Day. On all sides, institutions are putting themselves in harmony with the enlightenment of the century. I have not hesitated. Whatever may be the success of my efforts, their aim has been the welfare of humanity and this inner consciousness is sufficient for me.

I am about therefore, to restore the Hebraic tongue in its original principles and show the rectitude and force of these principles, giving by their means a new translation of that part of the Sepher which contains the Cosmogony of Moses. I feel myself bound to fulfill this double task by the very choice that I have made, the motives of which it is useless to explain further. But it is well, perhaps, before entering into the details of the Grammar, and of the numerous notes preceding my translation which prepare and sustain it, that I reveal here the true conditions of things, so as to fortify upright minds against the wrong direction that might be given them, showing the exact point of the question to exploring minds, and make it clearly understood to those whose interests or prejudices, of whatever sort, might lead them astray, that I shall set at naught all criticism which may come from the limits of science, whether supported by delusory opinions or authorities, and that I shall recognize only the worthy champion who shall present himself upon the field of truth, armed with truth.

It is well known that the Fathers of the Church have believed, until Saint Jerome, that the Hellenistic version called the Septuagint, was a divine work written by prophets rather than by simple translators, often even unaware, from what Saint Augustine says, that another original existed34; but it is also known that Saint Jerome, judging this version corrupt in innumerable passages, and by no means exact35, substituted a Latin version for it that was considered the only authentic one by the Council of Trent, and in defense of which the Inquisition has not feared to kindle the flames of the stake36. Thus the Fathers have contradicted beforehand the decision of the Council, and the decision of the Council has, in its turn, condemned the opinion of the Fathers; so that one could not find Luther entirely wrong, when he said that the Hellenistic interpreters had not an exact knowledge of Hebrew, and that their version was as void of meaning as of harmony37, since he followed the sentiment of Saint Jerome, sanctioned in some degree by the Council; nor even blame Calvin and the other wise reformers for having doubted the authenticity of the Vulgate, notwithstanding the infallible decision of the Council38, since Saint Augustine had indeed condemned this work according to the idea that every Church had formed in his time.

It is therefore, neither the authority of the Fathers, nor that of the Councils that can be used against me; for the one destroying the other, they remain ineffectual. It will be necessary to demonstrate by a complete and perfect knowledge of Hebrew, and not by Greek and Latin citations to which I take exception, but by interpretations founded upon better principles than mine, to prove to me that I have misunderstood this tongue, and that the bases upon which I place my grammatical edifice are false. One clearly realizes, at this time in which we are living, that it is only with such arguments one can expect to convince me39.

But if honest minds are astonished that after more than twenty centuries, I alone have been able to penetrate the genius of the tongue of Moses, and understand the writings of this extraordinary man, I shall reply frankly that I do not believe that it is so; I think, on the contrary, that many men have, at different times and among different peoples, possessed the understanding of the Sepher in the way that I possess it; but some have prudently concealed this knowledge whose divulgence would have been dangerous at that time, while others have enveloped it with veils so thick as to be attacked with difficulty. But if this explanation will not be accepted, I would invoke the testimony of a wise and painstaking man, who, being called upon to reply to a similar objection explained thus his thought: "It is very possible that a man, secluded in the confines of the Occident and living in the nineteenth century after Christ, understands better the books of Moses, those of Orpheus, and the fragments which remain to us of the Etruscans, than did the Egyptian, Greek and Roman interpreters of the age of Pericles and Augustus. The degree of intelligence required to understand the ancient tongues is independent of the mechanism and the material of those tongues. It is not only a question of grasping the meaning of the words, it is also necessary to enter into the spirit of the ideas. Often words offer in their vulgar relation a meaning wholly opposed to the spirit that has presided at their rapprochement. . . ." 40 I have said that I consider the Hebraic idiom contained in the Sepher, as a transplanted branch of the Egyptian tongue. This is an assertion the historic proof of which I cannot give at this moment, because it would draw me into details too foreign to my subject; but it seems to me that plain, common sense should be enough here: for, in whatever manner the Hebrews may have escaped, one cannot deny that they made a long sojourn in Egypt. Even though this sojourn were of only four or five centuries duration as everyone is led to believe41; I ask in all good faith, whether a rude tribe deprived of all literature, without civil or religious institutions that might hold it together, could not assume the tongue of the country in which it lived; a tribe which, transported to Babylon for only seventy years, and while it formed a corps of the nation, ruled by its particular law, submissive to an exclusive cult, was unable to preserve its maternal tongue and bartered it for the Syriac-Aramaean, a sort of Chaldaic dialect42; for it is well known that Hebrew, lost from this epoch, ceased to be the vulgar tongue of the Jews.

Therefore, I believe that one cannot, without voluntarily ignoring the evidence, reject so natural an assertion and refuse to admit that the Hebrews coming out from Egypt after a sojourn of more than four hundred years, brought the tongue with them. I do not mean by this to destroy what Dochart, Grotius, Huet, Leclerc43, and other erudite moderns have advanced concerning the radical identity which they have rightly admitted between Hebrew and Phoenician; for I know that this last dialect brought into Egypt by the Shepherd kings became identified with the ancient Egyptian long before the arrival of the Hebrews at the banks of the Nile.

Thus the Hebraic idiom ought therefore to have very close relations with the Phoenician, Chaldaic, Arabic and all those sprung from the same source; but for a long time cultivated in Egypt, it had acquired intellectual developments which, prior to the degeneracy of which I have spoken, made it a moral tongue wholly different from the vulgar Canaanitish tongue. Is it needful to say to what degree of perfection Egypt had attained? Who of my readers does not know the stately eulogies given it by Bossuet, when, laying aside for a moment his theological partiality, he said, that the noblest works and the most beautiful art of this country consisted in moulding men44; that Greece was so convinced of this that her greatest men, Homer, Pythagoras, Plato, even Lycurgus and Solon, those two great legislators, and others whom it is unnecessary to name, went there to acquire wisdom.

Now, had not Moses been instructed in all the sciences of the Egyptians? Had he not, as the historian of the Acts of the Apostles insinuated45, begun there to be “mighty in words and deeds?” Think you that the difference would be very great, if the sacred books of the Egyptians, having survived the debris of their empire, allowed you to make comparison with those of Moses? Simplicius who, up to a certain point had been able to make this comparison, found so much that was conformable46, that he concluded that the prophet of the Hebrews had walked in the footsteps of the ancient Thoth.

Certain modern savants after having examined the Sepher in incorrect translations, or in a text which they were incapable of understanding, struck with certain repetitions, and believing they detected in the numbers taken literally, palpable anachronisms, have imagined, now, that Moses had never existed, and then, that he had worked upon scattered memoirs, whose fragments he himself or his secretaries had clumsily patched together47.

It has also been said that Homer was an imaginary being; as if the existence of the Iliad and the Odyssey, these master-pieces of poetry, did not attest the existence of heir author! He must have little poetic instinct and poor understanding of the arrangement and plan of an epic work, who could conceive such a false idea of man and his conceptions, and be persuaded that a book like the Sepher, the King or the Veda could be put forward as genuine, be raised by fraud to the rank of divine Writings, and be compiled with the same heedlessness that certain authors display in their crude libels.

Undoubtedly certain notes, certain commentaries, certain reflections written at first marginally, have slipped into the text of the Sepher; Esdras has restored badly some of the mutilated passages; but the statue of the Pythian Apollo on account of a few slight breaks, remains none the less standing as the master-piece of an unrivalled sculptor whose unknown name is a matter of less consequence. Not recognizing in the Sepher the stamp of a grand man shows lack of knowledge; not wishing that this grand man be called Moses shows lack of criticism.

It is certain that Moses made use of more ancient books and perhaps of sacerdotal memoirs, as has been suspected by Leclerc, Richard Simon and the author of Conjectures upon Genesis48. But Moses does not hide it ; he cites in two or three passages of the Sepher the title of the works which are before his eyes: the book of the Generations of Adam49; the book of the Wars of the Lord50; the book of the Sayings of the Seers51. The book of Jasher is mentioned in Joshua52. The compiling of old memoirs the causing of them to be compiled by scribes as these writers have advanced, or indeed the abridging them as Origen supposed, is very far from that53. Moses created in copying: this is what a real genius does. Can one imagine that the sculptor of the Pythian Apollo had no models? Can one imagine, by chance, that Homer imitated nothing? The opening lines of the Iliad were copied from the Demetreide of Orpheus. The history of Helen and the war of Troy were preserved in the sacerdotal archives of Tyre whence this poet took it. It is asserted that he changed it to such an extent, that, of the simulacrum of the Moon he made a woman, and of the Eons, or celestial Spirits who contended for its possession, the men whom he called Greeks and Trojans54.

Moses had delved deeply into the sanctuaries of Egypt, and he had been initiated into the mysteries; it is easily discovered in examining the form of his Cosmogony. He undoubtedly possessed a great number of hieroglyphics which he explained in his writings, as asserted by Philo55; his genius and particular inspiration produced the rest. He made use of the Egyptian tongue in all its purity56. This tongue had at this time attained its highest degree of perfection. It was not long becoming deteriorated in the hands of a rude tribe left to their own fate in the deserts of Idumea. It was a giant that found itself suddenly among a troop of pygmies. The extraordinary movement which this tongue had stamped upon its nation could not last, but in order that the plans of Providence should be fulfilled it was sufficient that the sacred storehouse in the Sepher should be guarded carefully.

It appears, in the opinion of the most famous rabbis57, that Moses himself, foreseeing the fate to which his book must be submitted and the false interpretations that must be given it in the course of time, had recourse to an oral law which he gave by word of mouth to reliable men whose fidelity he had tested, and whom he charged to transmit it in the secret of the sanctuary to other men who, transmitting it in their turn from age to age might insure its thus reaching the remotest posterity58. This oral law that the modern Jews are confident they still possess, is named Kabbala59, from a Hebrew word which signifies, that which is received, that which comes from elsewhere, that which is passed from hand to hand, etc. The most famous books that they possess, such as those of the Zohar, the Bahir, the Medrashim, the two Gemaras, which compose the Talmud, are almost entirely kabbalistic.

It would be very difficult to say today whether Moses has really left this oral law, or whether, having left it, it has not become altered, as the learned Maimonides seems to insinuate when he writes that his nation has lost the knowledge of innumerable things, without which it is almost impossible to understand the Law60. Be that as it may, it is quite possible that a like institution might have been in the mind of the Egyptians whose inclination for the mysteries is quite well known.

Besides, chronology, cultivated but little before the conquest of Chosroes, that famous Persian monarch whom we call Cyrus, hardly permits fixing the epoch of the appearance of Moses. It is only by approximation that one can place, about fifteen centuries before the Christian era, the issue of the Sepher. After the death of this theocratic lawgiver, the people to whom he had confided this sacred storehouse, remained still in the desert for some time and were established only after many struggles. Their wandering life influenced their language which degenerated rapidly. Their character became harsh; their spirit was roused. They turned hands against each other. One of the twelve tribes, that of Benjamin, was almost wholly destroyed. Nevertheless, the mission that this people had to fulfill and which had necessitated their exclusive laws, alarmed the neighbouring peoples; their customs, their extraordinary institutions, their pride irritated them; they became the object of their attacks. In less than four centuries they were subjected six times to slavery, and six times they were delivered by the hand of Providence who willed their preservation. In the midst of these terrible catastrophes, the Sepher was respected: covered with a providential obscurity it followed the vanquished, escaped the victors, and for a long time remained unknown to its possessors themselves. Too much publicity would have brought about its loss. Whether it is true that Moses had left oral instructions for evading the corruption of the text, it is not to be doubted that he did not take all possible precaution to guard its preservation. It can therefore be regarded as a very probable thing that those who handed down in silence and in the most inviolable secrecy, the thoughts of the prophet, confided his book to each other in the same manner, and in the midst of troubles preserved it from destruction.

But at last after four centuries of disasters, a more peaceful day seemed to shine upon Israel. The theocratic sceptre was divided; the Hebrews gave themselves a king, and their empire although restricted by neighbouring powers did not remain without some glory. Here a new danger appeared. Prosperity came to do what the most frightful reverses had been unable to achieve. Indolence seated upon the throne crept into the lowest ranks of the people. Certain indifferent chronicles, certain misunderstood allegories, chants of vengeance and of pride, songs of voluptuousness, bearing the names of Joshua, Ruth, Samuel, David and Solomon, usurped the place of the Sepher. Moses was neglected; his laws were unheeded. The guardians of his secrets, invested with luxury, a prey to all the temptations of avarice gradually forgot their oaths. The arm of Providence raised against this intractable people, struck them at the moment least suspected. They were stirred by intestine struggles, they turned against each other. Ten tribes separated themselves and kept the name of Israel. The other two tribes took the name of Judah. An irreconcilable hatred spread between these two rival peoples; they erected altar against altar, throne against throne; Samaria and Jerusalem had each its sanctuary. The safety of the Sepher was the outcome of this division.

Amid the controversies born of this schism each people recalled its origin, invoked its unheeded laws, cited the forgotten Sepher. Everything proves that neither one nor the other possessed this book any longer and that it was only by favour of heaven that it was found long afterward61, at the bottom of an old coffer covered with dust, but happily preserved beneath a heap of pieces of money, which avarice had in all probability accumulated secretly and hidden from all eyes. This event decided the fate of Jerusalem. Samaria deprived of her palladium, having been struck a century before by the power of the Assyrians, had fallen, and her ten tribes, captive, dispersed among the nations of Asia, having no religious bond, or to speak more clearly, entering no more in the conservative plans of Providence, were dissolved there; whereas Jerusalem, having recovered her sacred code in the moment of her greatest peril, attached herself to it with a strength that nothing could break. In vain were the peoples of Judah led away into bondage; in vain was their royal city destroyed as Samaria had been, the Sepher which followed them to Babylon was their safe-guard. They could indeed lose, during the seventy years of their captivity, even their mother tongue, but they could not be detached from the love of their laws. It was only needful that a man of genius should deliver these laws to them. This man was found; for genius never fails to come forth when summoned by Providence.

Esdras was the name of this man. His soul was strong and his constancy unflinching. He saw that the time was favourable, that the downfall of the Assyrian empire, overthrown by the hands of Cyrus, gave him the means for reestablishing the Kingdom of Judah. He skillfully profited by this. From the Persian monarch he obtained the liberty of the Jews and led them to the ruins of Jerusalem. But previous even to their captivity, the politics of the Assyrian kings had reanimated the Samaritan schism. Certain tribes, Cuthaeans or Scythians, brought into Samaria, had intermarried with certain surviving members of Israel and even with certain remnants of the Jews who had taken refuge there. At Babylon the plan had been conceived of opposing them to the Jews, whose religious obstinacy was disturbing62. A copy of the

Hebraic Sepher had been sent to them with a priest devoted to the interests of the court. Accordingly when Esdras appeared, these new Samaritans opposed its establishment with all their strength63. They accused him before the great king, of fortifying a city and of making a citadel rather than a temple. It was even said that not content with calumniating him they advanced to fight.

But Esdras was hard to intimidate. Not only did he repulse these adversaries and thwart their intrigues, but anathematizing them, raised up between them and the Jews an insurmountable barrier. He did more: being unable to take away from them the Hebraic Sepher, a copy of which they had received from Babylon, he conceived the idea of giving another form to his and resolved upon the change of its characters.

This was comparatively easy, since the Jews, having at that time not only become denaturalized, but having lost completely the idiom of their forefathers, read the ancient characters with difficulty, accustomed as they were to the Assyrian dialect and to the modern characters of which the Chaldeans had been the inventors. This innovation that politics alone seemed to order, and which without doubt was done from the loftiest motives, had most fortunate results for the preservation of the text of Moses, as I shall relate in my Grammar. It called forth between the two peoples an emulation which has contributed not inconsiderably to bring down to us a book to which the highest interests must ever be attached.

Furthermore, Esdras did not act alone in this matter. The anathema which he had hurled against the Samaritans having been approved by the doctors of Babylon, he convoked them and held with them that great synagogue, so famous in the books of the rabbis64. It was there that the changing of the characters was arrested; that the vowel points were admitted in the writing for the use of the vulgar, and the ancient Masorah began, which one should guard against confusing with the modern Masorah, a work of the rabbis of Tiberias, the origin of which does not go back beyond the fifth century of the Christian era65.

Esdras did still more. As much to estrange the Samaritans as to humour the Jews, whom long custom and their sojourn at Babylon had attached to certain writings more modern than those of Moses and much less authentic, he made a choice from them, retouched those which appeared to him defective or altered, and made up a collection which he joined to the Sepher. The assembly over which he presided approved of this labour that the Samaritans deemed impious; for it is well to know that the Samaritans received absolutely only the Sepher of Moses66, and rejected all the other writings as apocryphal. The Jews themselves have not today the same veneration for all the books which constitute what we call the Bible. They preserved the writings of Moses with a much more scrupulous attention, learned them by heart and recited them much oftener than the others. The savants, who have been in a position to examine their various manuscripts, state that the part consecrated to the books of the Law is always much more exact and better treated than the rest67.

This revision and these additions have given occasion in later times for thinking that Esdras had been the author of all the writings of the Bible. Not only have the modern philosophists embraced this opinion68, which favoured their skepticism, but many Fathers of the Church, and many thinkers have ardently sustained it, believing it more consistent with their hatred of the Jews69; they rely chiefly upon a passage attributed to Esdras himself70. I think I have sufficiently proved by reasoning, that the Sepher of Moses could be neither a supposition nor a compilation of detached fragments: for one never takes for granted nor compiles works of this nature, and as to its integrity in the time of Esdras, there exists a proof de facto that cannot be challenged: this is the Samaritan text. It is well known, however little one may reflect, that considering the condition of things, the Samaritans, mortal enemies of the Jews, anathematized by Esdras, would never have received a book of which Esdras had been the author. They were careful enough not to receive the other writings, and it is also this which can make their authenticity doubted71. But it is not my plan here to enter into a discussion in regard to this. It is only with the writings of Moses that I am occupied; I have designated them expressly by the name Sepher, in order to distinguish them from the Bible in general, the Greek name of which, recalls the translation of the Septuagint and comprises all the additions of Esdras and even some more modern ones.







Let us rely firmly upon this important truth: the Hebraic tongue already corrupted by a gross people, and intellectual as it was in its origin, brought down to its most material elements, was entirely lost after the captivity of Babylon. This is an historic fact impossible to be doubted, whatever skepticism we may profess. The Bible shows it72; the Talmud affirms it73;it is the sentiment of the most famous rabbis74; Walton cannot deny it75; the best critic who has written upon this matter, Richard Simon, never wearies of repeating it76. Thus therefore, nearly six centuries before Jesus Christ, the Hebrews, having become Jews, no longer either spoke or understood their original tongue. They used a Syriac dialect called Aramaic, formed of the union of several idioms of Assyria and Phoenicia, and quite different from the Nabathaean which according to d'Herbelot was pure Chaldaic77.

On and after this epoch, the Sepher of Moses was always paraphrased in the synagogues. It is known that after the reading of each verse, an interpreter was charged with explaining it to the people, in the vulgar tongue. From this came the name of Targum78 It is somewhat difficult to say today, whether these versions were at first written by the doctors or entrusted to the sagacity of the interpreters. However that may be, it appears certain that the meaning of the Hebraic words, becoming more and more uncertain, violent discussions arose concerning the diverse interpretations which were given to the Sepher. Some, claiming to possess the oral law secretly given by Moses, wished to introduce it for everyone in these explanations; others, denied the existence of this law, rejected all kinds of traditions and required that they hold to the most literal and the most material explanations. Two rival sects were born of these disputes. The first, that of the Pharisees was the most numerous and the most esteemed: it admitted the spiritual meaning of the Sepher, treated as allegories what appeared to be obscure, believed in divine Providence and in the immortality of the soul79. The second, that of the Sadducees, treated as fables all the traditions of the Pharisees, scorned their allegories, and as it found nothing in the material meaning of the Sepher which might prove or even express the immortality of the soul, denied it; seeing nothing in what their antagonists called soul, only a consequence of the organization of the body, a transient faculty which must become extinguished with it80. In the midst of these two contending sects, a third was formed, less numerous than the other two, but infinitely more learned: it was that of the Essenes. These held a median position between the Pharisees, who made every thing give way to the allegorical, and the Sadducees who, by the dryness of their interpretations perverted the dogmas of Moses. They preserved the letter and the material meaning outwardly, but guarded the tradition and the oral law for the secret of the sanctuary. The Essenes, living far from cities, formed particular societies, and in no wise jealous of the sacerdotal charges filled by the Pharisees, or of the civil honours intrigued for by the Sadducees, they applied themselves much to ethics and the study of nature. All that has been written upon the mode of life and intelligence of this sect has redounded greatly to its credit81. Wherever there were Jews, there were Essenes; but it was in Egypt that they were mostly found. Their principal retreat was in the environs of Alexandria, toward the lake, and Mount Moriah.

I beg the reader seriously interested in ancient secrets to give attention to this name82; for if it is true, as everyone attests, that Moses has left an oral law, it is among the Essenes that it has been preserved. The Pharisees who boasted so haughtily that they possessed it, had only its semblances, for which Jesus constantly reproaches them. It is from these Pharisees that the modern Jews descend, with the exception of certain true savants through whom the secret tradition goes back to that of the Essenes. The Sadducees have brought forth the present Karaites, otherwise called Scripturalists.

But even before the Jews possessed their Chaldaic targums, the Samaritans had a version of the Sepher made in the vulgar tongue; for they were even less able than the Jews to understand the original text. This version which we possess entire, being the first of all those which had been made, merits consequently more confidence than the targums, which succeeding and destroying one another do not appear of great antiquity: besides, the dialect in which the Samaritan version is written has more affinity with the Hebrew than with the Aramaic or the Chaldaic of the targums. To a rabbi, named Onkelos, has ordinarily been attributed the targum of the Sepher, properly so-called, and to another rabbi named Jonathan, that of the other books of the Bible; but the epoch of their composition has not been fixed. It can only be inferred that they are more ancient than the Talmud, because the dialect is more correct and less disfigured. The Talmud of Jerusalem particularly, is in a barbarous style, mixed with a quantity of words borrowed from neighbouring tongues and chiefly from Greek, Latin and Persian83. This was the vulgar idiom of the Jews in the time of Jesus Christ.

Nevertheless, the Jews, protected by the Persian monarchs, had enjoyed some moments of tranquillity; they had rebuilt their temples; they had raised again the walls of their city. Suddenly the face of things was changed: the empire of Cyrus crumbled; Babylon fell into the power of the Greeks; all bent beneath the laws of Alexander. But this torrent which burst forth in a moment, both upon Africa and upon Asia, soon divided its waves and turned them in different channels. Alexander died and his captains parcelled out his heritage. The Jews fell into the power of the Seleucidae. The Greek tongue carried everywhere by the conquerors, modified the new idiom of Jerusalem and drew it further away from the Hebrew. The Sepher of Moses already disfigured by the Chaldaic paraphrases disappeared gradually in the Greek version.

Thanks to the discussions raised by the savants of the last centuries upon the famous version of the Hellenist Jews, vulgarly called the Septuagint version, nothing had become more obscure than its origin84. They questioned among themselves, at what epoch, and how, and why it had been done85; whether it was the first of all, and whether there did not exist an earlier version in Greek, from which Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle had drawn their knowledge86; who the seventy interpreters were and whether they were or were not, in separate cells while labouring at this work87; whether these interpreters were, in short, prophets rather than simple translators88.

After having examined quite at length the divergent opinions which have been put forth on this subject, these are what I have judged the most probable. Anyone can, if he is so inclined, do this difficult labour over again, which after all will produce only the same results, if he is careful to exercise the same impartiality that I have shown.

It cannot be doubted that Ptolemy, son of Lagus, notwithstanding some acts of violence which marked the beginning of his reign and into which he was forced by the conspiracy of his brothers, was a very great prince. Egypt has not had a more brilliant epoch. There, flourished at the same time, peace, commerce, the arts, and the cultivation of the sciences, without which there is no true grandeur in an empire. It was through the efforts of Ptolemy that the splendid library in Alexandria was established, which Demetrius of Phalereus, to whom he had confided its keeping, enriched with all the most precious literature of that time. The Jews had long since been settled in Egypt89. I cannot conceive by what spirit of contradiction the modern thinkers insist that, in the course of circumstances such as I have just presented, Ptolemy did not have the thought that has been attributed to him of making a translation of the Sepher in order to place it in his library90. Nothing seems to me so simple. The historian Josephus is assuredly believable on this point as well as the author of the letter of Aristeas91, notwithstanding certain embellishments with which he loads this historic fact.

But the execution of this plan might offer difficulties; for it is known that the Jews communicated with reticence their books, and that they guarded their mysteries with an inviolable secrecy92. It was even a customary opinion among them, that God would punish severely those who dared to make translations in the vulgar tongue. The Talmud relates that Jonathan, after the appearance of his Chaldaic paraphrase, was sharply reprimanded by a voice from heaven for having dared to reveal to men the secrets of God. Ptolemy, therefore, was obliged to have recourse to the intercession of the sovereign pontiff Eleazar, showing his piety by freeing certain Jewish slaves. This sovereign pontiff whether touched by the bounty of the king, or whether not daring to resist his will, sent him an exemplar of the Sepher of Moses, permitting him to make a translation of it in the Greek tongue. It was only a question of choosing the translators. As the Essenes of Mount Moriah enjoyed a merited reputation for learning and sanctity, everything leads me to believe that Demetrius of Phalereus turned his attention upon them and transmitted to them the orders of the king. These sectarians lived as anchorites, secluded in separate cells, being occupied, as I have already said, with the study of nature. The Sepher was, according to them, composed of spirit and substance: by the substance they understood the material meaning of the Hebraic tongue; by the spirit, the spiritual meaning lost to the vulgar93 Pressed between the religious law which forbade the communication of the divine mysteries and the authority of the prince who ordered them to translate the Sepher, they were astute enough to extricate themselves from such a hazardous step: for, in giving the substance of the book, they obeyed the civil authority, and in retaining the spirit, obeyed their conscience. They made a verbal version as exact as they could in the restricted and material expression, and in order to protect themselves still further from the reproaches of profanation, they made use of the text of the Samaritan version whenever the Hebraic text did not offer sufficient obscurity.

It is very doubtful whether there were seventy in number who performed this task. The name of the Septuagint Version comes from another circumstance that I am about to relate.

The Talmud states that at first there were only five interpreters, which is quite probable; for it is known that Ptolemy caused only the five books of Moses to be translated, those contained in the Sepher, without being concerned with the additions of Esdras94. Bossuet agrees with this in saying that the rest of the books were, in the course of time, put into Greek for the use of the Jews who were spread throughout Egypt and Greece, where they had not only forgotten their ancient tongue, the Hebrew, but even the Chaldaic which they had learned during captivity95. This writer adds, and I beg the reader to note this, that these Jews made a Greek mixture of Hebraisms which is called the Hellenistic tongue, and that the Septuagint and all the New Testament are written in this language.

It is certain that the Jews, dispersed throughout Egypt and Greece, having entirely forgotten the Aramaic dialect in which their Targums were written, and finding themselves in need of a paraphrase in the vulgar tongue, would naturally take the version of the Sepher which already existed in the royal library at Alexandria: this is what they did. They joined to it a translation of the additions of Esdras and sent the whole to Jerusalem to be approved as a paraphrase. The sanhedrin granted their demand, and as this tribunal happened to be of seventy judges in conformity with the law96, this version received the name of Septuagint version, that is to say, approved by the seventy97.

Such is the origin of the Bible. It is a copy in the Greek tongue of the Hebraic writings wherein the material forms of the Sepher of Moses are well enough preserved, so that those who see nothing beyond the material forms may not suspect the spiritual. In the state of ignorance in which the Jews were at that time, this book thus disguised suited them. It suited them to such an extent, that in many of the Greek synagogues, it was read not only as paraphrase, but in place of and in preference to the original text98. Of what use was the reading of the Hebrew text? The Jewish people had long since ceased to understand it even in its most restricted acceptance99, and among the rabbis, if one excepts certain Essenes initiated in the secrets of the oral law, the most learned scarcely pretended to go back of the Greek, theLatin, or the barbarous jargon of Jerusalem, to the Chaldaic Targums which had become for them almost as difficult as the text100.

It was during this state of ignorance and when the Greek Bible usurped everywhere the place of the Hebraic Sepher, that Providence wishing to change the face of the world and operating one of those necessary movements whose profound reason I believe it useless to reveal, raised up Jesus. A new cult was born. Christianity, at first obscure, considered as a Jewish sect, increased, was spread abroad and covered Asia, Africa and Europe. The Roman empire was enveloped by it. Jesus and his disciples had always quoted the Greek Bible, the Fathers of the Church attaching themselves to this book with a religious respect, believing it inspired, written by the prophets, scorned the Hebraic text, and as Saint Augustine clearly says101, were even ignorant of its existence. Nevertheless the Jews, alarmed at this movement which was beyond their comprehension, cursed the book which caused it. The rabbis, either by politics or because the oral law became known, openly scoffed it as an illusory version, decried it as a false work, and caused it to be considered by the Jews as more calamitous for Israel than the golden calf. They publicly stated that the earth had been enveloped in darkness during three days on account of this profanation of the holy Book, and as one can see in the Talmud, ordained an annual fast of three days in memory of this event.

These precautions came too late; the storehouse badly guarded had changed hands. Israel, resembling a crude coffer closed with a triple lock but worn out by time, afforded no longer a sufficiently sure shelter. A terrible revolution drew nigh: Jerusalem fell, and the Roman empire, a political moribund body, was destined to the vultures of the North. Already the clouds of ignorance were darkening the horizon; already the cries of the barbarians were heard in the distance. It was necessary to oppose these formidable enemies with an insurmountable obstacle. That obstacle was this same Book which was to subdue them and which they were not to understand.

Neither the Jews nor the Christians were able to enter into the profoundness of these plans. They accused each other of ignorance and of bad faith. The Jews, possessors of an original text which they could no longer comprehend, anathematized a version which rendered  only the gross and exterior forms. The Christians, content with these forms which at least they grasped, went no further and treated with contempt all the rest. It is true that from time to time there appeared among them men who, profiting by a last gleam of light in those dark days, dared to fix the basis of their belief, and judging the version in its spirit to be identical with its forms, detached themselves abruptly and disdainfully from it. Such were Valentine, Basil, Marcion, Apelles, Bardesane, and Manes, the most terrible of the adversaries that the Bible has encountered. All treated as impious the author of a book wherein the Being, preeminently good, is represented as the author of evil; wherein this Being creates without plan, prefers arbitrarily, repents, is angered, punishes an innocent posterity with the crime of one whose downfall he has prepared102. Manes, judging Moses by the book that the Christians declared to be from him, regarded this prophet as having been inspired by the Genius of evil103. Marcion, somewhat less severe saw in him only the instrument of the Creator of the elementary world, very different from the Supreme Being104. All of them caused storms, more or less violent; according to the force of their genius. They did not succeed, because their attack was imprudent, unseasonable, and because without knowing it they brought their light to bear inopportunely upon a rough structure prepared for sustaining a most true and imposing edifice.

Those Fathers of the Church whose eyes were not wholly blinded, sought for expedients to evade the greatest difficulties. Some accused the Jews of having foisted upon the books of Moses things false and injurious to the Divinity105; others had recourse to allegories106. Saint Augustine acknowledged that there was no way of conserving the literal meaning of the first three chapters of Genesis, without attributing to God things unworthy of him107. Origen declared that if the history of the creation was taken in the literal sense it was absurd and contradictory108. He complained of the ignorant ones who, led astray by the letter of the Bible, attributed to God sentiments and actions that one would not wish to attribute to the most unjust, the most barbarous of men109. The wise Beausobre in his Histoire du Manicheisme, and Pétau in his Dogmes theologiques, cite numerous similar examples.

The last of the Fathers who saw the terrible mistake of the version of the Hellenists and who wished to remedy it, was Saint Jerome. I give full justice to his intentions. This Father, of an ardent character and searching mind, might have remedied the evil, if the evil had been of a nature to yield to his efforts. Too prudent to cause a scandal like that of Marcion or of Manes; too udicious to restrict himself to vain subtleties as did Origen or Saint Augustine, he felt deeply that the only way of arriving at the truth was to resort to the original text. This text was entirely unknown. The Greek was everything. It was from the Greek, strange and extraordinary fact, that had been made, according as was needed, not only the Latin version, but the Coptic, Ethiopic, Arabic, and even the Syriac, Persian and others.

But in order to resort to the original text it would be necessary to understand the Hebrew. And how was it possible to understand a tongue lost for more than a thousand years? The Jews, with the exception of a very small number of sages from whom the most horrible torments were unable to drag it, understood it hardly better than Saint Jerome. Nevertheless, the only way that remained for this Father was to turn to the Jews. He took a teacher from among the rabbis of the school of Tiberias. At this news, all the Christian church cried out in indignation. Saint Augustine boldly censured Saint Jerome. Rufinus attacked him unsparingly. Saint Jerome, exposed to this storm, repented having said that the version of the Septuagint was wrong; he used subterfuges; sometimes, to flatter the vulgar, he said that the Hebraic text was corrupt; sometimes, he extolled this text concerning which, he declared that the Jews had not been able to corrupt a single line. When reproached with these contradictions, he replied that they were ignorant of the laws of dialectics, that they did not understand that in disputes one spoke sometimes in one manner and sometimes in another, and that one did the opposite of what one said110. He relied upon the example of Saint Paul; he quoted Origen. Rufinus charged him with impiety, and replied to him that Origen had never forgotten himself to the point of translating the Hebrew, and that only Jews or apostates could undertake it111. Saint Augustine, somewhat more moderate, did not accuse the Jews of having corrupted the sacred text; he did not treat Saint Jerome as impious and as apostate; he even agreed that the version of the Septuagint is often incomprehensible; but he had recourse to the providence of God112, which had permitted that these interpreters should translate the Scripture in the way that was judged to be the most fitting for the nations who would embrace the Christian religion.

In the midst of these numberless contradictions, Saint Jerome had the courage to pursue his plan; but other contradictions and other obstacles more alarming awaited him. He saw that the Hebrew which he was so desirous of grasping escaped from him at each step; that the Jews whom he consulted wavered in the greatest uncertainty; that they did not agree upon the meaning of the words, that they had no fixed principle, no grammar; that, in fact, the only lexicon of which he was able to make use was that very Hellenistic version which he aspired to correct113. What was the result of his labour? A new translation of the Greek Bible in Latin, a little less barbarous than the preceding translations and compared with the Hebraic text as to the literal forms. Saint Jerome could do nothing further. Had he penetrated the inner principles of the Hebrew; had the genius of that tongue been unveiled to his eyes, he would have been constrained by the force of things, either to keep silence or to restrict it within the version of the Hellenists. This version, judged the fruit of a divine inspiration, dominated the minds in such a manner, that one was obliged to lose one's way like Marcion, or follow it into its necessary obscurity. This is the Latin translation called ordinarily, the Vulgate.

The Council of Trent has declared this translation authentic, without nevertheless, declaring it infallible; but114 the Inquisition has sustained it with all the force of its arguments115, and the theologians with all the weight of their intolerance and their partiality116.

I shall not enter into the irksome detail of the numberless controversies which the version of the Hellenists and that of Saint Jerome have brought about in the more modern times. I shall pass over in silence the translations which have been made in all the tongues of Europe, whether before or after the Reformation of Luther, because they were all alike, only copies more or less removed from the Greek and Latin.

No matter how much Martin Luther and Augustine Eugubio say about the ignorance of the Hellenists, they still use their lexicon in copying Saint Jerome. Though Santes Pagnin or Arias Montanus endeavour to discredit the Vulgate; though Louis Cappell pass thirty-six years of his life pointing out the errors; though Doctor James or Father Henri de Bukentop, or Luc de Bruges, count minutely the mistakes of their work, brought according to some to two thousand, according to others, four thousand; though Cardinal Cajetan, or Cardinal Bellarmin perceive them or admit them; they do not advance one iota the intelligence of the text. The declamations of Calvin, the labours of Olivetan, of Corneille, Bertram, Ostervald and a host of other thinkers do not produce a better effect. Of what importance the weighty commentaries of Calmet, the diffuse dissertations of Hottinger? What new lights does one see from the works of Bochard, Huet, Leclerc, Lelong and Michaelis? Is the Hebrew any better understood? This tongue, lost for twenty-five centuries, does it yield to the researches of Father Houbigant, or to the indefatigable Kennicott? Of what use is it to either or both, delving in the libraries of Europe, examining, compiling and comparing all the old manuscripts? Not any. Certain letters vary, certain vowel points change, but the same obscurity remains upon the meaning of the Sepher. In whatever tongue one turns it, it is always the same Hellenistic version that one translates, since it is the sole lexicon for all the translators of the Hebrew.

It is impossible ever to leave the vicious circle if one has not acquired a true and perfect knowledge of the Hebraic tongue. But how is one to acquire the knowledge? How? By reestablishing this lost tongue in its original principles: by throwing off the Hellenistic yoke: by reconstructing its lexicon: by penetrating the sanctuaries of the Essenes: by mistrusting the exterior doctrine of the Jews: by opening at last that holy ark which for more than three thousand years, closed to the profane, has brought down to us, by a decree of Divine Providence, the treasures amassed by the wisdom of the Egyptians.

This is the object of a part of my labours. With the origin of speech as my goal, I have found in my path Chinese, Sanskrit and Hebrew. I have examined their rights. I have revealed them to my readers, and forced to make a choice between these three primordial idioms I have chosen the Hebrew. I have told how, being composed in its origin of intellectual, metaphorical and universal expressions, it had insensibly become wholly gross in its nature because restricted to material, literal and particular expressions. I have shown at what epoch and how it was entirely lost. I have followed the revolutions of the Sepher of Moses, the unique book which contains this tongue. I have developed the occasion and the manner in which the principal versions were made. I have reduced these versions to the number of four; as follows: the Chaldaic paraphrases or targums, the Samaritan version, that of the Hellenists, called the Septuagint version, and finally that of Saint Jerome, or the Vulgate. I have indicated sufficiently the idea that one ought to follow.

It is now for my Grammar to recall the forgotten principles of the Hebraic tongue, to establish them in a solid manner, and to connect them with the necessary results: it is for my translation of the Cosmogony of Moses and the notes which accompany it, to show the force and concordance of these results. I shall now give myself fearlessly to this difficult labour, as certain of its success as of its utility, if my readers vouchsafe to follow me with the attention and the confidence that is required.




1 Walton, Prolegom I.

2 Rich. Sim. Histoire crit. L. I, ch.

3 Diod-Sic. L. II. "At varies linguae sonitus natura subegit Mittere, et utilitas expressit nomina rerum.-LUCRET.

4 Essai sur I'origlne des Langucs.

5 St.-Martin Esprit des choses, T. II p. 127.

6 Locke. Essay concern. Human Understand. B. Ill; Condillac Logique.

7 Plat, dial Thcact. Phaedon. Crat.

8 This famous inscription, Know thyself was, according to Pliny, a saying of the sage Chilo, a celebrated Greek philosopher who lived about 560 B. C. He was from Lacedaemon and died of joy, it was said, embracing his son, victor in the Olympic games.

9 Asiat. Research. T. I.

10 Ibid. T. II. p. 51.

11 Asiat. Research. T. II. p. 368, 379.

12 Following the Hebraic orthography  rb[  habar, following the Arabic (arabic font), habar. The Hebraic derivative is  yrb[  habri, a Hebrew: the Arabic derivative is (arabic font), harbi, an Arab.

13 Asiat. Research. T. II. p. 13.

14 Ibid. T. II. p, 15.

15 Traduct. franc, des Recher. Asiat. T. II. P. 49. Notes.

16 Zend-Avesta. T. I. part II. p. 46.

17 Asiat. Research, T. II. p. 52 et suiv.

18 Bibl. ori. p. 514.

19 Millin: Monumens inedits.

20 This work which treats of the manners and customs of Persia, is not known except for a single extract inserted in the New Asiatic Miscellany, published by Gladwin, at Calcutta, 1789.

21 Edda Islandonim Haoniae, 1665, in-4.

22 This tradition is drawn from the great history Tsee-tchi-Kien-Kang-Mou, which the Emperor Kang-hi ordered translated into Tataric and embellished with a preface.

23 Mtm. concer. les Chinois. T. I. p. 273 et suiv. Ibid. T. VIII. p 133 et suiv. Mem. de VAcad. des Inscrip. T. XXXIV. in-4. p. 25.

24 Descript. de Siam. T. I. p. 25. Asia*. Resear. T. VI. p. 307.

25 Ibid. T. I. p. 307.

26 Wilkin's Notes on the Hitopadcsa. p. 294. Halhed, dans la preface de la Gramm. du Bengale, ct dans le Code dcs lois des Oentoux.

27 St-Martin: Esprit des choses, T. II. p. 213.

28 Asiat. Research. T. I. p. 279, 357, 366, etc.

29 Mem. concern, les Chinois. T. I.

30 Ibid. T. VIII. p. 133 & 185.

31 Clem. Alex. Strom. L. V. Herodot. L. II. 36.

32 Herodot. Ibid.

33 Mém. de I'Acad. des Inscript. T. XXXIX. in-12 p. 129. Court-de- Gébelin, Orig. du Lang. p. 471.

34 Walton. Proleg. IX. Rich. Simon, Hist. crit. L. II. ch. 2. August. L. III. c. 25.

36 Mariana: pr. Edit. vulg. c. I.

37 Luther sympos. Cap. de Linguis.

38 Fuller, in miscell. Causabon. adv. Baron.

39 The Fathers of the Church can unquestionably be quoted like other writers, but it is upon things de facto, and in accordance with the rules of criticism. When it is a question of saying that they have believed that the translation of the Septuagint was a work inspired of God, to quote them in such case is unobjectionable; but if one pretends thus to prove it, the quotation is ridiculous. It is necessary, before engaging in a critical discussion, to study the excellent rules laid down by Fréret the most judicious critic that France has possessed. Voyez Acad. de Belles-Let. T. VI. Memoir, p. 146. T. IV. p. 411. T. XVIII. p. 49. T. XXI. Hist. p. 7.

40 Court-de Gébelin: Mond. primit. T. I, p. 88.

41 In the Second Book of the Sepher, entitled  twmv hlaw  Wealeh Shemoth ch. 12 v. 40, one reads that this sojourn was 430 years.

42 Walton Proleg. III. Rich. Simon: Hist. crit. L. II. ch. 17.

43 Bochart, Chanaan L. II. ch. I. Grotius: Comm. in Genes, c. II. Huet: Démonst. Evan. prop. IV. c. 3. Leclerc: Diss. de Ling. hebr.

44 Bossuet: Hist. Univers. III. part. 3.

45 Act. VII. v. 22.

46 Simplic. Comm. phys. arist. L. VIII p. 268.

47 Spinosa: tract, theol. c. 9. Hobbes: Leviath. Part. Ill, c. 33. Isaac de la Peyrere: Syst. thcol. Part. I. L. IV. c. I. Leclerc, Bolinbroke, Voltaire, Boulanger, Fréret, etc.

48 Leclerc, in Diss. III. de script. Pentateuch. Richard Simon: Hist. crit. L. I. c. 7.

49 Gen. c. 5. v. 1.

50 Num. c. 21. v. 14.

51 Chron. II. c. 33, v. 19.

52 Jos. C. 10. V. 13.

53 Epist. ad Affric.

54 Beausobre, Hist, du Manich. T. II. p. 328.

55 De vita Mos.

56 I shall not stop to contend with the opinion of those who seem to believe that the Coptic differs not in the least from the ancient Egyptian; for can one imagine such an opinion as serious? One might as well say that the tongue of Boccaccio and Dante is the same as that of Cicero and Vergil. One can display his wit in upholding such a paradox; but he could prove it neither by criticism nor even by common sense.

57 Moyse de Cotsi: Pref. au grand Livre des Command, de la Loi. Aben-Esra, Jesud Mora, etc.

58 Boulanger: Antiq. dev. L. I. c. 22.

59  lbq

60 Rambam. More. Nebuch. Part. I. c. 21.

61 Voyez Chronig. II. c. 34. v. 14. et suiv.; et conférez Rois II. ch. 12.

62 Kings II ch. 17. v. 27.

63 Joseph: Hist. Jud. L. XI. c. 4.

64 R. Eleasar.

65 The first Mashorah, whose name indicates Assyrian origin as I shall show in my Grammar, regulates the manner in which one should write the Sepher, as much for usage in the temple as for its particular use; the characters that should be employed, the different divisions in books, chapters and verses that should be admitted in the works of Moses; the second Masorah, that I write with a different orthography in order to distinguish it from the first, aside from the characters, vowel points, books, chapters and verses with which it is likewise occupied, enters into the most minute details pertaining to the number of words and letters which compose each of these divisions in particular, and of the work in general; it notes those of the verses where some letter is lacking, is superfluous, or else has been changed for another; it designates by the word Kere and Ketib, the diverse renditions that should be substituted in the reading of each; it marks the number of times that the same word is found at the beginning, the middle or the end of a verse; it indicates what letters should be pronounced, understood, inverted, suspended, etc., etc. It is because they have not studied to distinguish these two institutions from each other, that the savants of the past centuries have laid themselves open to such lively discussions: some, like Buxtorf who saw only the first Mashorah of Esdras, would not grant that it had anything of the modern, which was ridiculous when one considers the minutiae of which I have just spoken: others, like Cappell, Morin, Walton and even Richard Simon who saw only the Masorah of the rabbis of Tiberias, denied that it had anything of the ancient, which was still more ridiculous, when one considers the choice of characters, vowel points, and the primitive divisions of the Sepher. Among the rabbis, all those who have any name, have upheld the antiquity of the Mashorah; there has been only Elijah Levita who has attributed it to more modern times. But perhaps he heard only the Masorah of Tiberias mentioned. Rarely do the rabbis say all that they think.

66 Walton. Proleg. XI. Richard Simon. Hist. crit. L. I. ch. 10.

67 Rich. Simon: Hist. Crit. L. I. ch. 8.

68 Bolingbroke, Voltaire, Fréret, Boulanger, etc.

69 St. Basil. Epist. ad Chil. St. Clém. Alex. Strom. I. Tertull. Dc habit, mulier. c. 35. St. Iren. L. XXXIII. c. 25. Isidor. Etymol. L. VI c. 1. Leclerc. Sentim. de quelq. théolog. etc.

70 Esdras ch. IV. v. 14. This book is regarded as apocryphal.

71 Rich. Simon. Hist. crit. L. I. ch. 10.

72 Nehem. ch. 8.

73 Thalm. devot. ch. 4.

74 Elias, Kimchi, Ephode, etc.

75 Proleg. Ill et XII.

76 Hist. crit. L. I. ch. 8, 16, 17. etc.

77 Biblioth. ori. p. 514.

78 From the Chaldaic word,  ~wgrt  version, translation: R. Jacob:in compend. thalm.

79 Joseph. Antiq. L. XII. 22. XVII. 3.

80 Joseph. Ibid. L. XIII. 9. Budd. Introd. ad phil. hebr. Basnage: Hist, des Juifs. T. I.

81 Joseph: de bello Jud. L. II. c. 12. Phil, de vita contempt Budd: Introd. ad phil. hebr. etc.

82 It is unnecessary, I think, for me to say that Mount Moriah has become one of the symbols of Adonhiramite masonry. This word signifies the reflected light, the splendour.

83 Hist. crit. L. II. ch. 18.

84 Hist, crit. L. II. c. 2.

85 Despierres: Auctor, script, tract. II. Walton. Proleg. IX.

86 Cyril. Alex. L. I. Euseb. pra;p. evan. c. 3. Ambros. Epist. 6. Joseph Contr. Api. L. I. Bellarmin. dc verbo Dei. L. II. c. 5.

87St. Justin, orat. par. ad gent. Epiph. Lib. de mens. et ponder. Clem. Alex. Strom. L. I. Hieron. Prwf. in Pcntat. J. Morin. Exercit. IV.

88 St. Thomas: quaest. II. art. 3. St. August, de Civit. del. L. XVIII. c. 43. Iren. adv. hoeres. c. 25, etc.

89 Joseph. Antiq. L. XII. c. 3.

90 Horae Biblicae 2.

91 Joseph. Ibid. praef. et L. XII. c. 2.

92 Hist. crit. L. II. ch. 2.

93 Joseph, de Bello Jud. L. II. ch. 12. Phil, de vita contempt Budd. introd. ad phil, hebr.

94 Joseph. Antiq. L. XII. ch. 2.

95 Disc. sur l’Hist. univ. I. part. 8.

96 Sepher. L. IV. c. 11. Elias Levita: in Thisbi.

97 Hist. crit. L. II. c. 2.

98 Walton: Proleg. IX. Horae biblicae. . 2. Hist. Crit. L. I. c. 17.

99 Philo, the most learned of the Jews of his time, did not know a word of Hebrew although he wrote a history of Moses. He praises much the Greek version of the Hellenists, which he was incapable of comparing with the original. Josephus himself, who has written a history of his nation and who should have made a special study of the Sepher, proves at every step that he did not understand the Hebrew text and that he often made use of the Greek. He labored hard in the beginning of his work to understand why Moses, wishing to express the first day of creation, used the word one and not the word first, without making the very simple reflection that the word  dxa  in Hebrew, signifies both. It is obvious that he pays less attention to the manner in which the proper names were written, than to that in which they were pronounced in his time, and that he read them not by the Hebraic letter, but by the Greek letter. This historian who promises to translate and to render the meaning of Moses, without adding or diminishing anything, is however far from accomplishing this purpose. In the very first chapter of his book, he says that God took away speech from the serpent, that he made its tongue venomous, that he condemned it henceforth to have feet no more; that he commanded Adam to tread upon the head of this serpent, etc. Now, if Philo and Josephus showed themselves so ignorant in the understanding of the sacred text, what must have been the other Jews? I make exception always of the Essenes.

100 It is related in St. Luke that Jesus Christ read to the people a passage from Isaiah paraphrased in Chaldaic and that he explained it (ch. 4. v. 17). It is Walton who has made this observation in his Prolegomena. Dissert. XII.

101 "Ut an alia esset ignorarent." August. L. III. c. 25.

102 Beausobre: Hist, du Manich. Passim. Epiphan, haeres, passim.

103 Act. disput. Archel. 7.

104 Tertull. Contr. Marci.

105 Recognit. L. II. p. 52. Clement. Homel. III. p. 642-645.

106 Pétau: Dogm. théol. de opif. L. II. 7.

107 August. Contr. Faust. L. XXXII. 10. De Genes. Contr. Manich. L. II. 2.

108 Origen. philocal. p. 12. .

109 Origen. Ibid. p. 6 et 7.

110 P. Morin. Exercit. Bill. Rich. Simon. Hist. crit.

111 Ruffin. Invect. Llv. II. Richard Simon. Ibid. L. II. chap. 2.

112 August, de doct. Christ. Walton: Proleg. X.

113 Rich. Simon. Ibid. L. II. ch. 12.

114 Hist. crit. L. II. ch. 12.

115 Palavic. Hist. M. VI. ch. 17. Mariana: pro. Edit. vulg. c. I.

116 Cardinal Ximenes having caused to be printed in 1515, a polyglot composed of Hebrew, Greek and Latin, placed the Vulgate between the Hebraic text and the Septuagint version: comparing this Bible thus ranged in three columns, to Jesus Christ between the two robbers: the Hebrew text according to his sentiment, represented the wicked robber, the Hellenistic version the good robber and the Latin translation Jesus Christ! The editor of the Polyglot of Paris, declares in his preface that the Vulgate should be regarded as the original source wherein all the other versions and the text itself should agree. When one has such ideas, one offers little access for truth.

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