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Jews

people, messiah, life, history, zabathai, appeared, dis and promised

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JEWS, in church history, the descen dants of Judah, the son of Jacob, and of the Israelites, commonly denominated the Twelve Tribes of Israel. This name was first given to those Jews who returned from the captivity of Babylon, because the tribe of Judah made the most conspicu ous figure among them.

Our account of this people must be con fined to their modern history, and to a brief statement of their present improved condition on the continent, chiefly under the auspices of Bonaparte, one of the most extraordinary characters that ever appeared in the world.

From the reign of Adrian, emperor of Rome, to the present day, the people of the Jewish nation have often been the dupe of some pretender to Messiahship, who has risen up to promise them that restoration to their former dignity and importance, from which they have been driven by the imperious decrees of a righteous Providence. It appears that about twenty-four false Christs have, at various times, excited the hopes and dis appointed the expectations of this credu lous and superstitious people. The most important of these Messiahs was one Za bathai Tzevi, who in the year 1666, a year of great expectation by many, made a considerable noise at Smyrna, and other places. He was a man of much learning, and promised fairly to realize their expec tations of being restored to their ancient inheritances, and of becoming once more a great and prosperous nation. Thou sands of the Jews listened to his preten sions; but all his schemes were rendered abortive by an unfortunate difference that arose between him and one Nehemiah, who, pretending to be the son ofEphraim, and whom he said was to be a kind of se condary Messiah, reproved his superior in the office of Messiahship, Zabathai, for his too great forwardness in appearing as the son of David, before the son of Ephraim had led him the way. Zaba thai could not brook this doctrine, and therefore excluded his officious forerun. ner from any part or share in the matter. Nehemiah, mortified at his degradation, reported Zabathai to the Grand Seignior, at Adrianople, 'as a person dangerous to the government. Zabathai, dejected and fearful, appeared, according to a sum mons for that purpose, before the Grand Seignior, who requiring a miracle, which was that the pretended Messiah should be stripped naked, and set as a mark for the archers to shoot at, and if the arrows did not pierce his flesh, he would own him to be the true Messiah. Zabathai's faith failed him ; he sacrificed his pre tensions to his life ; and, preferring the faith of the Musslemen to the arrows of the executioners*, he furnished his dis appointed followers with another proof of their foolish credulity, and the chris tian prophecies with additional confirma.

tion.

The last of the pretended Christs, that made any considerable number of con verts, was one Rabbi Mordecai, a Jew of Germany. He made his appearance in the year 1682. It was not long before he was found out to be an impostor, and was obliged to fly from Italy to Poland to save his life. What became of him after. wards is not known.

After this the most intelligent among the Jews seem to have turned their ex pectations rather towards a moral and political regeneration, than to their re storation, as a people, to the city of Je rusalem, and to the actual repossession of Palestine, as their inheritance, though there are doubtless multitudes among them who still expect even this local restoration, and live constantly looking for some person to be raised up as their king and deliverer. Whatever may be the ideas of the Israelites in this country, it is certain their brethren on the Conti nent look up to the French Emperor, as their great promised deliverer and saviour. " The time of our trial," say they, " is expired, the period of our ca lamities is ended ! All the persecutions we have sustained have only tended to unite us the more closely together. We have at all times remained faithful to the commandments of the Lord our God : for our recompense, he has deter mined in his wisdom that we shall be re ceived into the bosom of other nations, to enjoy the happiness of our forefathers : but, to fulfil this object, it was necessary to find a man, whose virtues, whose va lour and wisdom, should exceed every thing which had been before admired by mortals! Napoleon appeared! and God Almighty immediately supported him with the arm of his power. He recalled him from Egypt, while he subjected the tempestuous ocean to his divine laws : he sent his angels to guide his steps, and to watch over his precious life : his di vine spirit inspired this hero in the field of battle as in the midst of his palace : from the summit of the hills and moun tains he showed him his enemies, dis persed in the plains of Austerlitz and Jena." Thus are the riches and fire of oriental genius, conjoined with the warmth of adulation, peculiar to the French people, made to express the hopes and enjoyments of the children of Israel! This is an epoch in the Jewish history deserving a more minute detail, and worthy of being preserved from the perishing annals of newspapers and pam phlets. Posterity will see how far these flattering prospects have been built on a permanent or a sandy foundation.

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