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1 THE FRIENDSHIP THAT WAS BETWEEN ONIAS AND PTOLEMY PHILOMETOR; AND HOW ONIAS BUILT A TEMPLE IN EGYPT LIKE TO THAT AT JERUSALEM.
2 It seems to me contrary to the opinion of Josephus, and of the moderns, both Jews and Christians, that this prophecy of Isaiah, 19:19, etc., "In that day there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt," etc., directly foretold the building of this temple of Onias in Egypt, and was a sufficient warrant to the Jews for building it, and for worshipping the true God. the God of Israel, therein. See Authent. Rec. 11. p. 755. That God seems to have soon better accepted of the sacrifices and prayers here offered him than those at Jerusalem, see the note on ch. 10. sect. 7. And truly the marks of Jewish corruption or interpolation in this text, in order to discourage their people from approving of the Worship of God here, are very strong, and highly deserve our consideration and correction. The foregoing verse in Isaiah runs thus in our common copies, "In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan," [the Hebrew language; shall be full of Jews, whose sacred books were in Hebrew,] "and swear to the Lord of hosts; one" [or the first] "shall be called, The City of Destruction," Isaiah 19:18. A strange-name, "City of Destruction," upon so joyful occasion, and a name never heard of in the land of Egypt, or perhaps in any other nation. The old reading was evidently the City of the Sun, or Heliopolis; and Unkelos, in effect, and Symmachus, with the Arabic version, entirely confess that to be the true reading. The Septuagint also, though they have the text disguised in the common copies, and call it Asedek, the City of Righteousness; yet in two or three other copies the Hebrew word itself for the Sun, Achares, or Thares, is preserved. And since Onias insists with the king and queen, that Isaiah's prophecy contained many other predictions relating to this place besides the words by him recited, it is highly probable that these were especially meant by him; and that one main reason why he applied this prediction to himself, and to his prefecture of Heliopolis, which Dean Prideaux well proves was in that part of Egypt, and why he chose to build in that prefecture of Heliopolis, though otherwise an improper place, was this, that the same authority that he had for building this temple in Egypt, the very same he had for building it in his own prefecture of Heliopolis also, which he desired to do, and which he did accordingly. Dean Prideaux has much ado to avoid seeing this corruption of the Hebrew; but it being in support of his own opinion about this temple, he durst not see it; and indeed he reasons here in the most injudicious manner possible. See him at the year 149.
3 A very unfair disputation this! while the Jewish disputant, knowing that he could not properly prove out of the Pentateuch, that "the place which the Lord their God shall choose to place his name there," so often referred to in the Book of Deuteronomy, was Jerusalem any more than Gerizzim, that being not determined till the days of David, Antiq. B. VII. ch. 13. sect. 4, proves only, what the Samaritans did not deny, that the temple at Jerusalem was much more ancient, and much more celebrated and honored, than that at Gerizzim, which was nothing to the present purpose. The whole evidence, by the very oaths of both parties, being, we see, obliged to be confined to the law of Moses, or to the Pentateuch alone. However, worldly policy and interest and the multitude prevailing, the court gave sentence, as usual, on the stronger side. and poor Sabbeus and Theodosius, the Samaritan disputants, were martyred, and this, so far as appears, without any direct hearing at all, which is like the usual practice of such political courts about matters of religion. Our copies say that the body of the Jews were in a great concern about those men (in the plural) who were to dispute for their temple at Jerusalem, whereas it seems here they had but one disputant, Andronicus by name. Perhaps more were prepared to speak on the Jews' side; but the firstraying answered to his name, and overcome the Samaritans, there was necessity for any other defender of the Jerusalem temple.
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