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According to Virgil,* the idol of greatest repute among . the ancient Trojans was Cybele," the worship of which," agreeably to the best authorities, “ was brought into Troas, or Troy, from Crete by Teucer, the king of the island, and the father of the Trojans.” It is literally a Hebrew word from Chibabel, like Babel,' which shows that the religion of the Trojans came originally from Babylon ; and, as the religion of Babylon came from Egypt, which was the worship of the serpent, the religion of the Trojans must have been the same.
I may be told that the goddess Cybele was not worshipped in the form of a serpent, but of a woman. It must, however, be noticed, that the serpent was worshipped under, various forms descriptive of its ruling propensities; and, as it was understood to be superior to all animals for circumspection or prudence, so it was a personification of a virtuous woman, who, it must be allowed, possesses that great ornament of the sex in a far higher degree than man.
This idol was worshipped after the manner of the Babylonians, on hills and conspicuous places, which custom, these nations took principally from the Hebrews, who worshipped God on mountains and hills. The worship of this idol became very general throughout all Phrygia. Many of their ceremonies were taken from the ancient part of scripture, but at length they fell into fable, gross idolatry, and superstition. They had a peculiar veneration for the pomegranate and the vine tree, which were used as emblems in the worship of God: the first was figured on the border of the garment of Aaron.
* lib. 3.
Their ceremonies of mortifying the body were carried to the same pitch of frantic madness, as we readconcerning the priests of Baal, who cut their bodies with knives when they worked themselves up into ecstasies, and pretended to have divine communication.
It will not be difficult for us to determine the origin of the worship of this goddess. Cybele, in the heathen mythology, is said to have been the mother of the gods, who sprung from the rocks after the deluge ; which was evidently taken from that epoch. The wife of Noah, was by them honored as a goddess, and her three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japhet, in after-ages were worshipped.
The history of Samuel also is preserved in the mythology, under the name of Attis, whose mother they feign to have conceived* 6 by taking the fruit of the pomegranate tree; she had a son, who was brought up by Phorbus, and who, being on the eve of taking a wife, was deprived of her, by a fatal occurrence ; soon after he emasculated himself under a pine tree.”
This is the account of Samuel mutilated, when his mother went to the temple to ask of God to give her a child, who was taken by Eli, and devoted to the service of God in the temple.
Troy flourished at the time of the Judges of Israel; and its destruction took place about the time of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon. It is worthy of remark, that when Horner sung the battles of the gods with the giants, he sung the battles of the Hebrew leader in the land of Canaan : as may be proved from the synchronism of events recorded in the bible, and introduced by the poet.
Having said as much as is necessary concerning the descendants of Ham, from whom descended twenty two
* Arnobius, lib. 8.
nations, and of their different idolatrous sects, I shall now introduce those nations, which descended from Shem. Concerning Arphaxad the son of Shem, in whose line the Messiah was to come, I have spoken in the chapter of the second order of the patriarchs.
The true worship of God continued among some of the descendants of this people, to the time of Abraham and Moses, for Melchizedeck was king of Salem, which was the ancient name of Jerusalem, and a priest of the most high God: and Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, was a prince and a priest of Midian. So that, though idolatry was the established worship of the eastern nations at that period, yet the worship of the true God, as it was established by Noah, was not altogether banished from the land of Canaan.
The descent from the patriarch begins in the 22d verse. Elam, Ashur, Lud, and Aram, who were the children of Shem, formed gentile nations. I shall therefore begin with Elam, the eldest son of Shem; and the father of the Elamites, so often mentioned in scripture, This will introduce
THE WORSHIP OF THE ANCIENT PERSIANS AND MEDES.
The worship of the ancient Persians, is of very great antiquity ;* it is carried back by them as far as the time of Elam, the son of Shem; they believed him to be the author of their Soph, or holy book. Undoubtedly, there were sacred books delivered to him by his father Shem, who had them from Noah, the names of which are mentioned in the bible, though we have them not.
* Prideaux, Vol. 1. p. 299.
The descendants of Shem, dwelt to the east of all the descendants of Ham, ver. 30. “And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east,” which agrees with Numbers, xxiii. 7. when Balak sent to that part of the country for a prophet to curse Israel: viz. “ And he took up his parable and said, Balak the king of Moab, hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel.” It being known to him that they were worshippers of the God of heaven, and that the Aramitish prophets originally had the power of blessing and cursing, on which ground Balak expected success in opposing Israel. For it is said of Abram, which in Hebrew means, the father of the land of Aram, "" I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee," Gen. xii. 3.
It is also sufficiently evident, that the founders of this very ancient nation descended from Elam, the son of Shem; that their posterity formed the Persian empire, and gave ihe name of their progenitor to the first prova ince in Persia, which became the residence of their kings. Dan. viii. 2. 5 At Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam.”
The ancient Persians cannot be ranked with the idolatrous nation ; for, descending from the patriarch Shem, they were taught the worship of the true God, which continued among them, when almost all the eastern nations were sunk in gross idolatry. Some writers have charged the Persians with being worshippers of fire and the sun ; but this has been a mistake. It appears, that . they most scrupulously adhered to the worship of God in primary things, as was also commanded in the books of Moses, which was much the same as that established by Abraham. In the scriptures we find that the sacred
" ever-burning fire” was used as an emblematical representation of the ever-living God. He appeared to Moses in the flaming fire, and led the Israelites through the wilderness by a pillar of fire. It was kept burning in the temple before the altar; it would therefore be as reasonable to charge the ancient Hebrews with being worshippers of the fire, as the ancient Persians, because they kept it burning in their temples.
According to the best authorities, they agree with the Hebrews in the accounts they give concerning the patriarch Abraham, and with the Mahometans in ascribing certain books to him.
THE WORSHIP OF THE MODERN PERSIANS
Was, in many instances, before the introduction of the · religion of Mahomet, like the Mosaic, which was intro
duced by their legislator Zoroaster, who had his learning and religion from the books of Moses, as to essentials. It was, therefore, more like a returning to first principles, than an introduction of any thing new. According to the most authentic account of the Persian religion at this period, they believed that God created the world in six divisions of time; that these division of time were not days, but states ; each comprehending a certain number of days.
The established religion of the Persians, is, however, Mahometan, who only differ from the Turks in the following particular: the Turks reckon the descent from Mahomet by Abubeker, derived from the Hebrew N ab,
father) and 35 beker the first,' i. e. the first father ; :whereas the Persians begin the descent from Mahomet by Eli, from the Hebrew 978 Eli my God.'