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supported by other writers and by independent evidence. Benjamin, says Basnage, was ' a famous traveller of the 12th century, who seems to have undertaken his voyage only to discover the state of his dispersed nation in all parts of the world.—His testimony seems to be the more authentic, because he speaks as an eye-witness, and relates what he had seen.' Eldad, who is supposed to have lived in the 13th century, wrote largely on the history of the twelve tribes. Peritful was a geographical writer of the 16th century. Benjamin relates, that, in the course of his travels in the East Indi«s, he met with a very considerable number of his countrymen; that there were, as he was informed, 20,000 Jews intermingled with the Pagan worshippers of fire; and that a nation of Jews was seated in the neighborhood of Persia, secured by the mountains which surrounded them, and independent of the power of that country. After relating that four of the Jewish tribes migrated beyond the rivers of Chaldea, and that they lived in a great degree after the manner of the Tartars, accompanied by their flocks, and dwelling in tents; Eldad asserts, that of the tribe of Issachar, which was subject to the Persians, a part conformed to some of the laws of the country, and that fire was the object of their religious adoration. And that colonies of Jews were planted along the shores of the Ganges, is the statement of Peritful80.
The author of a supplemental dissertation, inserted in Picart's elaborate work, on the Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Various Nations of the World, after referring to the relations of Benjamin and of Peritful, says, 'supposing it was true, that there ever was a Jewish settlement in those countries, we might very justly conjecture, that they were the remainder of the ten tribes.— Guelielmus de Rubruquis81, who travelled into Tartary in the year 1646, assures us, that about two day's jour
80 See Basnage's Hist, of the Jews, b. VI. ch. 2, 3,
81 P. 272, edit, of Paris.
ney beyond Derbent, on the road to Great Tartary, he met with a great number of Jews in a city called Samaron; and he mentions likewise an inclosed country towards the Caspian sea, where the Jews were confined. Carpin'% who travelled at the same time, gives us likewise an account of some of the Jews of Tartary83.'
Indeed Basnage informs us, that 'there are chiefly two opinions, that have been current with the Jews,' and the Christians, and that one of these opinions is this, 'that the ten tribes went into Tartary, in which are still observed some traces of ancient Judaism.' Menasseh, who was one of the wisest of the Jewish doctors, 'in the last century asserted the transmigration of the ten tribes into Tartary.' And 'Ortelius, that ingenious geographer, in giving the description of Tartary, notes the kingdom of Arsareth, where the ten tribes retiring succeeded the Scythian inhabitants*4.'
These opinions, it is proper to state, obtained not the approbation of Basnage himself. There are, he says, Jews dispersed in the East Indies: but they are not descendants of the ten tribes, but merchants, drawn thither by commerce. 'If we would seek out the remains of the ten tribes, we must do it only on the banks of the Euphrates, in Persia, and the neighboring province85.' The accounts respecting the emigration of Jews into Tartary or India are doubtless intermingled with much which is fabulous and wild85: but perhaps there is ground for concluding, that Basnage, engaged as he was in the composition of a work which involved a vast variety of inquiries, was too hasty in peremptorily rejecting the whole of these accounts, and that, notwithstanding his very extensive knoWlege oi
82 P. 377. •.
83 Bernard Picart's Ceremonies and Religious Customs of the Various Nations of the Known World, fol. 1733, vol. 1. p. 166.
84 Hist, of the Jews, p. 474.
85 P. 747.
86 Postel, Basnage informs us (p. 474), stated the Turks to be descended from the Jews.
'the Jewish dispersions, he was on this point not sufficiently careful in separating probability from fiction. Information on the subject from Oriental writers it must, indeed, be admitted, he had not an opportunity of procuring.
That a large body of the Jews should settle on the borders of Hindostan, is much more probable, than that they should inhabit any district of Tartary. But even with respect to the latter statement, the reasoning of Basnage, is not, I think, eminently conclusive. How improbable is it, says the author of the History of the Jews, that a handful of fugitives, should be able to conquer and 'expel the Scythians, a' people terrible for their fierceness and expence in war.' And he immediately after exclaims, what a specimen of romantic folly 'would it be, to leave a tolerably good country, to go and make conquests upon the Scythians87.' That the Persian Jews should conquer the Scythians, is certainly incredible; but that they should defeat some particular Tartar hordes is not impossible. That they should draw the sword against any of the shepherds of Tartary is not, however, a necessary supposition. Their country is of vast magnitude ; and who does not know, that myriads of its wandering inhabitants have frequently emigrated, and invaded some civilised nation of the globe? Surely, then, there is no difficulty in supposing, that a considerable part of the Jews of Persia might discover and occupy a portion of vacant land, equal in point of extent to all their wants. Nor is there any thing absurd in their abandoning Persia, cruelly persecuted as they often were by the prince and the people of that country.
It is observable that Moses says, the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shall serve other Gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone*1. 'And is it not,' asks bp. NeWton89, 'too common
for the Jews in popish countries to comply with the idolatrous worship of the church of Rome, and to bow down to stocks and stones, rather than their effects should be seized and confiscated.' The prelate then quotes Basnage. "The Spanish and Portugal Inquisitions," saith he, "reduce them to the dilemma of being either hypocrites or burnt. The number of these dissemblers is very considerable; and it ought not to be concluded, that there are no Jews in Spain or Portugal, because they are not known: they are so much the more dangerous, for not only being very numerous, but confounded with the ecclesiastics, and entering into all ecclesiastical dignities." And in another place he saith, "The most surprising thing is, that this religion spreads from generation to generation, and still subsists in the persons of dissemblers in a remote posterity. In vain the great lords of Spain make alliances, change their names, and take ancient scutcheons; they are still known to be of Jewish race, and Jews themselves. The convents of monks and nuns are full of them. Most of the canons, inquisitors, and bishops proceed from this nation. This is enough to make the people and clergy of this country tremble, since such sort of churchmen can only profane the sacraments, and want intention in consecrating the host they adore. In the mean time Orobio, who relates the fact, knew these dissemblers. He was one of them himself, and bent the knee before the sacrament. Moreover he brings proofs of his assertion, in maintaining, that there are in the synagogue of Amsterdam, brothers and sisters and near relations to good families of Spain and Portugal; and even Franciscan monks, Dominicans, and Jesuits, who come to do penance, and make amends for the crime they have committed in dissembling90." This is the whole of what bp. Newton has alleged in illustration of the prophecy, which I have just cited from Deuteronomy. It is not, I think, completely satisfactory; for
90 Basnage, book VII. ch 21, sect. 26; and ch. 33. sect. 14.
the fact is, that the Jews, who are scattered among the nations of Europe, have upon the whole adhered with uncommon steadiness to the faith of their ancestors. In order then to - remove the difficulty, I would observe, that this prediction has principally received its fulfilment in the apostasy of the descendants of the ten tribes, who have disappeared from the eyes of the world; and it may be remarked, that the Afghans, previously to their embracing of Mahometanism, were, as there is reason to believe, debased by the practice of idolatry and of heathen superstitions.
Agreeably to this Dr. Priestly, when speaking of another prediction, which relates to the Jews abandoning the religion of their ancestors, says, this prophecy has most literally 'been fulfilled in the ten tribes, few of whom ever returned to Palestine, and not being at present distinguished from other nations, they have, no doubt, adopted their idolatrous religions. It is not improbable, however, but that they somewhere form a distinct people, and that in due time their origin may be discovered. Some traces of them have of late appeared.' This celebrated writer immediately adds in a note,, it is ' with considerable probability,' that Sir William Jones 'conjectures, that the Afghans, a people living between Persia and Hindostan, are of Jsraelitish extraction91.' . '
With respect to the Afghans, I shall only farther add, that should this conjecture relative to them hereafter be proved to be a fact, it would not be very difficult to account for its having lain so many centuries in concealment. The following circumstances would, perhaps, afford a solution of the difficulty. Till very lately the gaining of territory, the acquisition of riches, and the opportunity of living with profusion and splendor, are the objects which have solely occupied the minds of the Europeans of Hindostan; and, in the pursuit of these, it must be admitted, they have discovered no want of eagerness, and no unnecessary scru
91 Disc, on the Evi. of Rel. 1794. p. 216.