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Mr. Bellamy is pleased to call information relative to the preservation of a perfect verbal Hebrew text.
The Hebrew Bible is called up Sepher Kodesh, the book of holiness, or the holy book. The reason for this title is obvious; the language was given by God himself to the first of men, and therefore justly called the sacred language. Adam and his posterity, down to the time of the Babel confusion, spoke this language. From this period it is believed that other languages began to be formed; but nevertheless we find that the Hebrew language remained pure, and descended pure by the line of Shem, through all the Patriarchal churches to the time of Abraham and Moses. In the same pure order it descended to the time of the Captivity; and though their vernacular tongue had gotten a little of the Babylonish pronunciation, which in truth was their original language, and which differed only as to some of its terminations, yet they retained the pure Hebrew Scriptures, Do the Sepher Jasher, i. e. the book of the upright.
Some have supposed that the original, even at this period, had been adulterated; but such persons should have recollected that before the Captivity, every copy sent forth for the use of the synagogues, and every copy sent forth for the use of the people, was written by the Scribes, so called from the performance of this very duty, and they were not sent forth till they had been accurately read over, and corrected, word for word, letter for letter, vowel for vowel, and accent for accent, and compared by the whole body of these learned men in full assembly, with the original temple copy or book of Jasher; these copies found in every family, were taken with them to Babylon, so that there was not a possibility for any error, had such appeared in one or more copies, to have been handed down to posterity.
In this order the language descended to the time of Christ, at which period we find, that the Hebrew Scriptures were perfect; for though he told them, they transgressed the commandment of God by their traditions, he never charged them with having corrupted the text, or with having taken away one iota, or one tittle, from any part of the word of God; which he would have done had this been the case. And it will be shewn in its proper place, that the quotations made by him and the Apostles from the Old Testament, were not quoted from the Septuagint, as has been too hastily supposed, but word for word, and vowel for vowel, as they now stand in the Hebrew. This is sufficient authority for Christians to rest assured that to the time of Christ, and the Apostles, the Hebrew Scriptures were as pure as when first
After the dispersion of the Jews, the sacred language was still preserved pure.'
We allow the sufficiency of the evidence adduced by Mr. Bellamy, in proof that the Jews had not wilfully corrupted the Hebrew Scriptures, and as conclusive in support of the assertion of their doctrinal purity: it is sufficient for nothing more. The boldness of the assertion certainly cannot fail of striking the mind of every reader. But if the verbal integrity of the Hebrew Bible depends on the accuracy of the statement that the quotations
made from it by Christ and the Apostles, were quoted word for word, and vowel for rowel, as they now stand in the Hebrew, it is most certainly an untenable assumption, and Mr. Bellamy's cause is irrecoverably lost. This point we shall shortly consider.
In the preceding extracts, the points which are assumed as facts, but which are among the most uncertain and disputable subjects, are not few. The Hebrew Bible is never called in any of the writings which it includes, p 50 the Holy Book; and it is more probable that the words were assigned on their first use, to designate the contents of the volume of collected writings, as containing subjects of a sacred nature, than in reference to the Divine origin of the language in which they are described. The existence of Synagogues, previously to the Captivity, is doubtful, and the origin of them is involved in much obscurity. The office and employment of Scribes are not more definitively settled; the account given of these by Mr. Bellamy, is scarcely, if at all, better than a fable. The supposition that the book of Jasher denotes the original standard copy by which all other copies were examined, and to which they were made conformable, is a mere gratuitous assumption. These are points for which, as Mr. Bellamy states them, all his readers have only his ipse dixit; to him they must listen as if he were Sir Oracle'; proofs and illustrations are too tedious to engage his attention, and too remote, we may add, from his grasp, to be at all objects of his solicitude. But if it was necessary for the preservation of the pure Hebrew text, that every copy of the Hebrew Bible should possess the probatum of the Scribes, and if its verbal accuracy was ascertained only as they had compared it with a standard copy, the book of Jasher, of what description is the copy of the Hebrew Bible used by Mr. Bellamy? Has that been compared with a book of Jasher, or book of the upright? Can he inform us where the original standard temple copy is now preserved, and by what means it has been guarded from innumerable perils, and safely conducted to its present depository? If he can afford the means of satisfying us, by the proper solution of these difficulties, he will most surely lay us under an obligation. We have neither prejudice nor systems to induce opposition to the doctrine of the verbal integrity of the Hebrew Bible; we are only compelled to withhold our assent from it, by the palpable and complete evidence which stands opposed to it, and which we cannot consent to exchange for the bold dictation of Mr. Bellamy. The integrity of the Hebrew text which he has translated, is, we can assure him, not placed beyond suspicion, as we shall more than prove when we come to notice his readings in our review of the translation before us: we shall demonstrate to the senses of our readers, Mr. Bellamy's corruption of the Hebrew text.
In Mr. B.'s Translation of the Bible, and in the prospectus
and specimens which preceded it, many passages are introduced in a form different from that which they assume in the Common Version, and in this manner were paraded with all the pomp of new discoveries. To some of these we shall give our attention, for the purpose of doing a little justice to Mr. Bellamy's predecessors; and at the same time we propose to consider the evidence which they supply to the high pretensions of this despotic Hebraist.
2 Kings v. 18. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master cometh into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon; when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing.
Mr. Bellamy obtains the sense which he puts upon the passage, by rendering the verbs in the preterite or past time, a mode of relieving the text from difficulty which was put in practice long before Mr. Bellamy was born. We have only to cite the following version of the passage now before us, to invalidate every pretension to original translation in this instance in Mr. B.'s specimen. In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant,
that when my Master went into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaned on my hand, I bowed myself in the house of Rimmon: The Lord pardon thy servant in this thing, that I bowed myself in the house of Rimmon.' The Syrian General,' says Mr. Bellamy, convinced that Jehovah only is God, says, he will henceforth worship no other; but his conscience charging him with his former wicked idolatry, he confesses his sin, and asks the prophet, Will Jehovah, I pray thee, pardon such wickedness as I have committed? Yea, 6 says the prophet, go in peace, intimating that God will pardon repenting sinners." This great man,' says the author from whose pages we have extracted the preceding rendering of the passage, 2 Kings v. 18, when he saw his leprosy cured, declared that he would afterwards acknowledge no other God, but the 'God of Israel; and that he would offer neither burnt-offerings nor sacrifices to any but this God alone; but considering that ' he had formerly been guilty of doing otherwise, and of having bowed himself before the idols in the temple of Rimmon, whither he commonly attended his master, the king of Syria, 'he desires of Elisha that this may be pardoned him; to which 'the prophet answers, that he wished him all sort of happiness,
Mr. Bellamy's New Translation.
In this thing, will Jehovah pardon thy servant? When my Lord came to the house of Rimmon to worship there, then he leaned on my hand, and I myself worshipped in the house of Rimmon. Since I myself worshipped in the house of Riramon, will Jehovah, I pray thee, pardon thy servant in this thing.
and assures him that he might go away assured of having his
· peace made with God.'*
Amos iii. 6. Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall evil be in the city and the Lord hath not done it?
Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall evil be in the city and Jehovah hath not taken vengeance?
This is the second example of contrasted passages in Mr. Bellamy's specimens. In the Introduction to the new translation, the last clause is rendered, And Jehovah hath not requited it?' the Author remarking, that It is hardly to be believed, 'that objectors are to be found bold enough to say, that 'gnaasah is never found in the sense of, to requite.' If,' says Mr. B. the reader will turn to 2 Sam. ii. 6, he will find that the word is found in the sense of, to requite: And now 'the Lord shew kindness and truth unto you: and I also (UN
egneseh) will REQUITE you this kindness.' like its correlative in English, must be construed according to the relation which it bears to other words in a sentence, and therefore we may admit the propriety of giving it the sense of to requite in the cited passage; but Mr. Bellamy had, in his specimens, rendered the verb wy by to take vengeance.' This translation he now abandons. If he can thus substitute other terms in the place of words which he has insisted are the only proper representatives of Hebrew expressions, may he not, in other instances, deviate from his first course? and if he thus alters his renderings, what right has he to arrogate to himself the authority which he claims as a translator, of affixing to words the only meaning which they can possibly bear? The theological objection attached to this passage, on which Mr. Bellamy so copiously dilates, and which attributes to God the doing of evil, had been obviated by a rendering similar to his own, long before his day: Shall there be any affliction in a city, and the Lord hath not sent it?'+
,עשה The verb
The next specimen of contrasted passages, in Mr. Bellamy's list, furnishes a notable example of his accuracy of discernment.
Isaiah ix 3. Thou hast multiplied the nation and not encreased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
Thou hast multiplied the nation, hast thou not encreased the joy? they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
* See " An Essay for a New Translation of the Bible." London 1727, p. 214, Calmet's Dict. Art. Naaman. Whitby's Comment. on Luke xii. 8.
Essay, ut supra. 133.
That this proposed reading is not new, every biblical scholar well knows. interrogativè sumo, locúmque sic verto, Multiplicasti gentem annon amplificásses gaudium? gavisi 'sunt, &c. Res ipsa videtur interrogationem postulare, quia ejus responsio statim subjicitur.' Mr. Bellamy is now dissatisfied with his former rendering, and pronounces the interrogative reading of the passage erroneous! He had translated the verb now in the present tense, they rejoice;' but now, he de clares this to be an improper translation; it should, he says, be translated they rejoiced.' But if they rejoiced' be the only meaning of the word new, and they rejoice' be an erroneous rendering, how came Mr. Bellamy to adopt the latter in his prospectus and if- Thou hast not encreased the joy'-be, as he now asserts it is, the only correct translation of the first clause of the verse, how came he to translate it in a manner so different as is the reading which he now discards-' Hast thou not encreased
the joy? In his reply to the Bishop of St. David's, Mr. Bellamy is very angry with his Lordship, for daring to find fault with his prospectus, and asks: "Why has he not shewn in oppo"sition to my translation-That He has multiplied the nation, "and not encreased the joy-when the next clause positively "says, they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil?" When Mr. Bellamy can thus, without modesty and without scruple, pronounce, ex cathedra, that a passage which he has positively declared contains a particular sense, and no other, does not convey that meaning, it is surely unnecessary to waste words in the attempt to exhibit inconsistencies which discover the erring and capricious spirit of the author to be at least equal to that of any other man The intolerable dogmatism with which Mr. Bellamy asserts every opinion of his own, as a principle of truth, and every interpretation of a Hebrew word, as its only proper and certain meaning, deprives him of the benefit of that lenity which we ever wish to concede to real scholars. He who treats those who differ from himself, with the rudeness which Mr. B. directs against his opponents, has no plea to offer for indulgence; he can be entitled only to the awards of justice. And for justice, let Mr. Bellamy wait at our tribunal.
Prov. xvi. 4. The Lord hath made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.
Jehovah hath ordained all to answer him; thus also the wicked for the day of evil.
This is one of the numerous passages in the Common Version, against which Mr. Bellamy launches his declamation, as aiding the cause of infidelity. His own' New Translation' he publishes in
* De Dieu in lọc.