WHAT GOD IS WORSHIPPED BY THE JEWS.
SYMMACHUS, LAMPRIAS, MOERAGENES.
HERE Symmachus, greatly wondering at what was spoken, says: What, Lamprias, will you permit our tutelar God, called Evius, the inciter of women, famous for the honors he has conferred upon him by madmen, to be inscribed and enrolled in the mysteries of the Jews? Or is there any solid reason that can be given to prove Adonis to be the same with Bacchus? Here Moeragenes interposing, said: Do not be so fierce upon him, for I who am an Athenian answer you, and tell you, in short, that these two are the very same. And no man is able or fit to hear the chief confirmation of this truth, but those amongst us who are initiated and skilled in the triennial παντέλεια, or great mysteries of the God. But what no religion forbids to speak of among friends, especially over wine, the gift of Bacchus, I am ready at the command of these gentlemen to disclose.
When all the company requested and earnestly begged it of him; first of all (says he), the time and manner of the greatest and most holy solemnity of the Jews is exactly agreeable to the holy rites of Bacchus; for that which [p. 311] they call the Fast they celebrate in the midst of the vintage, furnishing their tables with all sorts of fruits, while they sit under tabernacles made of vines and ivy; and the day which immediately goes before this they call the day of Tabernacles. Within a few days after they celebrate another feast, not darkly but openly, dedicated to Bacchus, for they have a feast amongst them called Kradephoria, from carrying palm-trees, and Thyrsophoria, when they enter into the temple carrying thyrsi. What they do within I know not; but it is very probable that they perform the rites of Bacchus. First they have little trumpets, such as the Grecians used to have at their Bacchanalia to call upon their Gods withal. Others go before them playing upon harps, which they call Levites, whether so named from Lusius or Evius,—either word agrees with Bacchus. And I suppose that their Sabbaths have some relation to Bacchus; for even at this day many call the Bacchi by the name of Sabbi, and they make use of that word at the celebration of Bacchus's orgies. And this may be made appear out of Demosthenes and Menander. Nor would it be absurd, were any one to say that the name Sabbath was imposed upon this feast from the agitation and excitement (σόβησις) which the priests of Bacchus indulged in. The Jews themselves testify no less; for when they keep the Sabbath, they invite one another to drink till they are drunk; or if they chance to be hindered by some more weighty business, it is the fashion at least to taste the wine. Some perhaps may surmise that these are mere conjectures. But there are other arguments which will clearly evince the truth of what I assert. The first may be drawn from their High-priest, who on holidays enters their temple with his mitre on, arrayed in a skin of a hind embroidered with gold, wearing buskins, and a coat hanging down to his ankles; besides, he has a great many little bells hanging at his garment which make a noise [p. 312] as he walks the streets. So in the nightly ceremonies of Bacchus (as the fashion is amongst us), they make use of musical instruments, and call the God's nurses χαλκοδρυσται. High up on the wall of their temple is a representation of the thyrsus and timbrels, which surely can belong to no other God than Bacchus. Moreover they are forbidden the use of honey in their sacrifices, because they suppose that a mixture of honey corrupts and deads the wine. And honey was used for sacrificing in former days, and with it the ancients were wont to make themselves drunk, before the vine was known. And at this day barbarous people who want wine drink metheglin, allaying the sweetness of the honey by bitter roots, much of the taste of our wine. The Greeks offered to their Gods these sober offerings or honey-offerings, as they called them, because that honey was of a nature quite contrary to wine. But this is no inconsiderable argument that Bacchus was worshipped by the Jews, in that, amongst other kinds of punishment, that was most remarkably odious by which malefactors were forbid the use of wine for so long a time as the judge was pleased to prescribe. Those thus punished . . . 1