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is remarkable that he has forgotten to specify the dimensions of Moses's tent. It must have been very capacious, to admit Moses, Aaron and his sons, and the seventy (or rather seventy-two) elders : but when it is added that the congre
gation at large, or all of them who were desirous of knowing the divine will, entered' after them; even credulity itself must be staggered!
But reserving some remarks on the incredibility of all this story about the pretended oral law, to the next chapter, I shall now introduce a few passages from other rabbies, which will give the reader some further information respecting the sentiments professed by modern Jews on this leading article of their system.
Rabbi Bechai suggests a curious question : When Moses was with the Lord for forty days 6 and forty nights, how could he distinguish day • from night?' His ingenuity also furnishes an answer: "When God was teaching him the written law, then he understood it was day; but when God was teaching him the oral law, he knew it was night!'*
The necessity of an oral law is asserted by Rabbi Moses Kotsensis: 'If the oral law had not been " added to the written law, the whole law would
have been obscure and unintelligible. For in " the first place, there are scriptures contrary and * repugnant to each other; and in the next place,
the written law is imperfect, and comprehends not all that is necessary to be known.'p
* Buxtorf. Synag. Jud. c. iii. p. 54, 55. Basil, 1661, + Ibid. p. 49.
! The same writer undertakes to assign the reason
why God would not have this law likewise committed to writing: Because God foresaw that the ' nations of this world would copy out the twenty 'four books, which are contained in the Law, the "Prophets, and the Hagiographa, and would abuse
them to heresy and impiety; he delivered to - Moses an oral exposition : nor would he allow it . to be committed to writing till the sects of the * Edomites and Ishmaelites had arisen, lest this ( also should be translated by the Gentiles, and perverted to the same evil purposes as the written
law. In the world to come, God will inquire "who are his children. Then the Gentiles, as well 'as the Israelites, shall produce the book of the “ law, and they shall both affirm themselves to be · his children. Therefore God will inquire again, ' with whom is the oral exposition which he deli
vered on mount Sinai. At this all will be dumb, 6 and not one, except Israel, will be found to have 'any knowledge of it.'*
Aben Ezra, in the preface to his Commentary on the Pentateuch, asserts the entire consistency of the written and oral law, but expresses himself in a manner which fully implies the superiority of the latter. "That is an evident sign to us that Moses
laid for his foundation the oral law, which is joy to the heart and healing to the bones. For there is no difference between these two laws, which have both been handed down to us from our fore'fathers.' And in another place he says, “In short, we cannot produce a complete exposition, if we 'confine ourselves to the precepts of the written
* Ibid. p. 55-57.
law, and do not lay the foundation in the words • of our wise men of pious memory.'*
The reverence of the synagogue for this oral law may be inferred from a circumstance mentioned by Orobio: ' By some of our rabbies, not only the • Pentateuch, but also the Mishna, which is a • larger volume, is committed to memory; so that
they are in the habit of reciting it word for word.'of
All this is in perfect accordance with a maxim delivered in the Gemara : “He that has learned
the Scripture, and not the Mishna, is a block- head. 'I
Rabbi Isaac cautions his readers against too high an estimation of the written law : Do not 'imagine that the written law is the foundation of ' our religion, which is really founded on the oral • law ; for it was upon the oral law that the cove'nant of God with Israel was made, as it is written, 6 “For after the tenour of these words I have made sa covenant with thee and with Israel.” These
words are the treasure of the Holy and Blessed
As the oral law is preferred to the written law, so the Gemara is preferred to both, according to the following order of precedence: “ The Bible is * like water, the Mishna like wine, and the Gemara * like spiced wine.' "The Law is like salt, the
* Ibid. p. 62. + Limborch, Amica Collatio cum Erud. Jud. p. 144. # Wagens. Sota. p. 516. Buxt. Sypag. Jud. c. iii. p. 63.
· Mishna like pepper, and the Gemara like balmy spice.'*
The comparative merit and advantage of studying these different writings are sufficiently indicated in a Talmudical treatise: "To study the Bible can
scarcely be deemed a virtue; to study the Mishna
is a virtue that will certainly be rewarded ; but · to study the Gemara is a virtue never to be surpassed. to
Of · those who apply themselves to any other science or study than the study of the Talmud, which is the true wisdom and the foundation of the law, it has been affirmed that they all <“ labour in vain and bring forth for trouble,” as • Isaiah says, (lxv. 23.) and that they consume their
days in frivolous and useless pursuits, that they " " walk after vanity and become vain,” (Jerem. • ïi. 5.)'. It is a caution often given in the rabbinical writings; "My son, attend thou to the words of the Scribes, more than to the words of the
Law. And some, in the fervour of their zeal for the exclusive study of the Talmud, have not been ashamed to pronounce in express terms, that
even to study the Bible is nothing but a waste of time.'ll
The reader may expect some account of the Thirteen Rules, which are affirmed to have been given to Moses on mount Sinai, and to have guided the doctors of succeeding ages in their deductions
Letter to the English or inferences from the letter of the Law, of which the Mishna and Gemara partly consist. These rules are said by the Jews to contain a complete
* Stehelin's Traditions, vol. i. p. 39. Israelite, p. 24. London, 1809, + Buxtorf. Synag. Jud. c. iii. p. 67.
Ibid. p. 72.
Ibid. | Ibid. p. 68.
system of Scripture logic: they may fairly be regarded as a system of rabbinical logic. The repetition of them forms part of their daily service, and they are inserted in their prayer-books, with this introduction : · Rabbi Ishmael * says, The • sense of the Law is discovered by thirteen ways
of argumentation.' I shall lay before the reader the rules themselves, and a few examples of their application.
1. Light and Heavy. This is what logicians call argumentum ab impari, from the less to the greater, or the contrary. If a less cause produces such effects, how much greater must be the effects of a greater cause. To exemplify this rule, the Talmudists allege what is said of Miriam, who was stricken with leprosy for murmuring against Moses. Num. xii. 14. “ The Lord said, If her “ father had but spit in her face, should she not be 66 ashamed seven days ? Let her be shut out from “ the camp seven days, and after that let her be “ received in again.” If a father's rebuke ought to make her ashamed seven days, how much rather ought she to be so affected by a rebuke from God, who was pleased to shew his mercy by requiring no more. Arguments from less to greater affirm, but from greater to less deny.
2. Equality or Agreement of words. When the same word occurs in two texts, conclusions are,