« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
of a certain Ptolemy of Megalopolis, who dealt largely in the extravagant and marvellous, and designedly blackened the character of Philopator.
In Josephus (contra Ap. ii. 5) we have a similar story of drunken elephants, let loose by Physcon (Ptolemy IX., 146–117 B.C.)
on the Alexandrian Jews, who supported his sister Cleopatra in her claim to the throne, which turn and attack his followers. Josephus also mentions in the same chapter a visit of Ptolemy Euergetes I. to the Jewish Temple to offer thanksgiving, in which similar events happen to those recorded in 3 Maccabees.
It seems likely that behind these references of Josephus lie the actual historical circumstances, which the writer connects together in a new order, to suit his own purpose.
This purpose is, of course, similar to that of the writers of Esther and Daniel—the glorification of the Jewish race and their religion, and the stiffening of their fibre by the contemplation of what had presumably happened in the past to their own faithful members, and to all who had ventured to persecute them. It had, too, a reference to the educated Jewish world : it was meant to lead them to imply that the Jewish race had a peculiar sanctity, and that it was dangerous to interfere with them; while, by the way, it emphasized the thorough loyalty of the Jews to the Ptolemies, so long as they were treated with justice and consideration.
The book is only interesting as throwing a light on the feeling of the Jews at this period to their Egyptian conquerors.
Note.This book is most accessible in Charles's Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Vol. I, and in S.P.C.K. Texts, 3 and 4 Maccabees. C. W. Emmet.
THE BOOK OF TOBIT
We may call the Book of Tobit an historical novel, if we lay stress on novel” rather than “ historical.' The writer's objecť was not to write history, but to point spiritual and moral lessons with an historical background. That background is vague, false, and full of anachronisms. It is better to call it a story with a purpose, or several purposes.
The writer, whom most English scholars recognize as a Jew living in Egypt somewhere between 300 and 200 B.C. (after the return from captivity, and before the Maccabæan revolt), in close touch with the Persian influences which were very strong in Egypt in the third century B.C., wrote his book partly to counteract forces hostile to Judaism, and partly-for he was a born story-teller—from the story-telling instinct. In it we find most artistically blended the various streams that would affect the mental life of a pious Jew of liberal tendencies living in Egypt removed from the politics and narrowing ecclesiasticism of the Jerusalem of the Return. The writer yields to none in his reverence for the Law, the performance of the duties to the Temple, and in love of the Holy City. One of his objects is to protest against violations of the purity of Jewish marriage, another to put in the forefront the duty of burying the dead. He is profoundly impressed with the need of a right spirit in prayer and almsgiving—and gives examples of very beautiful praying. He paints his characters in the quiet light and shade of the domesticity of the patriarchal age, drawn from the Book of Genesis. But Jewish
sources are but a tithe of what lies behind Tobit. We can trace the presence of at least three non-Jewish stories, which are worked in: namely, the Story of Ahikar, the Tale of the Grateful Dead Man, and the story told in the Tractate of Khons. Ahikar, indeed, is made a relative of Tobiť. His story, which appears in many forms, is the tale of the adopted son, who betrays his benefactor, and eventually is punished. The next tale relates how a traveller stays to bury a dead body, and on arriving at his destination falls in love with a rich lady. On the marriage night a serpent-demon springs out of her mouth to slay him, and is put to flight by the spirit of the buried man, who was her husband. And the Tractate of Khons, a propagandist document preserved on a stele, is a similar story of a princess cured of a demon through an emissary from the Egyptian God Khons.
The writer of Tobit was also in a circle of ideas of more definite angelic mediation than that of the Old Testament. His race had no doubt reached this through contact with Persia, together with the magical ideas that are also prominent in his book.
He opens with Tobit's narrative of his being carried to Nineveh in the days of Shalmaneser, with his wife and son Tobias. He tells of his loyalty to the Law, his almsgiving, and his care to bury the bodies of the dead in his captivity. It was after contracting defilement through one of these good actions, that he lay in the courtyard, and the droppings of the sparrows blinded him. The scene then changes to Ecbatana in Media, where Sarah, the daughter of Raguel, is under the influence of the demon Asmodeus, the slayer of seven men in succession who have aspired to be her husband. The Angel Raphael is sent down to accompany Tobias to Sarah, to make her his wife, and to recover a large sum of money deposited by Tobit. On the journey Tobias is attacked by a great fish in the river, which he brings to land with Raphael's aid; and he is told to keep the gall, liver, and heart, for the two latter when burned make a smoke that will drive away demons, while the gall will cure diseases of the eye. On their arrival the marriage
is arranged, Tobias burns the fish's liver and heart in the marriage chamber, the demon is driven away for ever, and the grave that Raguel has prepared for another would-be son-in-law has to be filled up. The money-deposit is received intact, and the party return to Nineveh, where Tobias applies the gall of the fish to his father's eyes and cures him. The book concludes with the final words of Raphael to Tobit, and an account of his Ascension, the prayer of Tobit, and his last words. Such is a bald summary of the course of the story, which by the simple skill of the writer in artistically uniting the domestic, the moral, the religious, and the marvellous has charmed the ears of Jew and Christian alike through the two thousand years of its life.
The writer's leading religious ideas are similar to those of Ben-Sira, who belonged to the same epoch. Both have the same teaching about the worship and offerings to the Temple; both teach the efficacy of almsgiving, and of prayer, though in Tobit fasting is not dwelt on; both are equally dumb as to the possibilities of a resurrection; while both are nobly universalistic in their outlook on the Messianic age, for example “A bright light shall shine unto the ends of the
earth. Many nations shall come from afar, And the inhabitants of the utmost ends of the earth unto thy holy name.”
(XIII. 11.). With regard to the influence of this book on the New Testament, there is no doubt that it acted constantly with the force of a set of ideas that had by their artistic presentment worked itself into the minds of cultured and uncultured alike. In idea and turn of phrase Tobit is always reappearing in the New Testament, In his teaching on prayer and almsgiving Our Lord reproduces and spiritualizes what Tobit had
said. There are many instances in St. Paul's Epistles
And their battlements with pure gold.
With carbuncles and stones of Ophir ;
Note.—The Temple edition_(Dent), edited by Sayce, with Judith and the Additions to Daniel.