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confirmed by the fact, that when the nation had obtained freedom, the e persons had no pre-eminence, and that Mo.
arne was the of. dge of controversies. Those who are called the officers of the children of Israel, (Ex. v. 14,) were not Judges chosen by the people, but servants of the Egyptian tyranny, appointed by the task-masters themselves that they might be responsible for the performance of the labour demanded.
It must be acknowledged that the seventy elders are mentioned, Ex. xxiv. 1, 9. Let it be observed, however, that they are called "seventy of the elders of Israel," which implies that there were others who had the same appellation, from the number of whom these were elected, not as autho. rized officers, but as companions of Moses in this solemn covenant. The very words of Moses evince that they had no power as magistrates; “ And he said unto the elders, tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and behold Aaron and Hur are with
any man have matters to do, let him come unto them,” v. 24. Nothing, therefore, has hitherto appeared, which resembles the Sanhedrin.
We can gather nothing decisive from the account of the Judges, whom Moses appointed in consequence of the advice of Jethro. These correspond neither with the Council of Threc, of Twenty-three, or of Seventy, but were able men out of all Israel, placed over the people as rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, and rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens, Ex. xviii. 21, 25.
A more plausible argument is derived from Numbers xi. 16, wbere Moses is directed by God to institute a council of seventy men, who should assist him in bearing the burden of the people. We must bere examine whether this council agreed in all points with the Sanhedrin of the Talmudists; whether it was made a perpetual institution; whether it was in fact, continued for so many ago, by a regular succession of Senators ; whether it was invested with authority over
H`yh Priests and Kings ; and whether it was the appropriate tribunal for the reserved cases specified by the Rabbins. And on all these points we find a total silence in the Scriptures, while the Jewish traditions are scarcely worthy of our belief. These elders were appointed to share the responsibility of Moses, and to allay the discontents of a murmuring people. Ordinary decisions of judicial nature were secured by the existing provisions of the law; and upon the death of Moses, a :d the possession of Canaan, it is reasonable to suppose that this temporary council was discontinued, as we find no subsequent mention of it in the Bible.
We can deduce no argument for a great and perpetual Council, from the precept in Deut. xvii. 9. Thou shalt come unto the Priests, the Levites, and unto the Judge that shall be in those days,” &c. The priests are here mentioned as versed in the law, and the Judges, whether ordinary or extraordinary, as persons qualified to decide ; while there is no proof of a uniform and continual Senate, or of causes submitted to their determination. The very controversies here cited, “ between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke,” were not the cases reserved for the Sanhedrin, but those upon which any magistrate was competent to pass judgment.
From the convention of the elders, judges, and officers, called by Joshua in his old age, (Jos. xxiv. 1,) we learn nothing of a regularly constituted council, for these persons after the discourse of Joshua, were dismissed, "every man unto his inheritance." The Jews have many traditional fables, concerning the councils in which Eli, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and various monarchs presided, but they are inconsistent with the frequent assertion, that Kings could not sit in the Sanhedrin, and are too ridiculous to merit even a refutation. Jehoshaphat “set judges in the land, throughout all the fenced cities of Judah,” but this is so far from establishing the existence of the Councils, that it plainly shows
that there were none in existence, especially as the members of those bodies supplied their own vacancies. It is scarcely necessary to add that the seventy elders seen by Ezekiel have no similarity to the Great Sanhedrin.
On the other hand, there are many reasons for believing that there was no such Council in the ancient common. wealth of Israel. There was none in the age of Joshua, who governed the nation, in peace as well as war, without the aid of a Council. There was none during the time of the Judges, who had authority from God himself. Samuel judged Israel for many years, and appointed his own sons his successors ; and in the important transactions which led to the change of government, he consulted not with any Sanhedrin, but with God alone. There was none under the Kings, nor do we find any monarch constituted, censured, or deposed by such an assembly. There was none under Zerubbabel, Ezra, or Nehemiah, who were authorized by Kings of Persia, but are never said even to have consulted the Sanhedrin.
From all these particulars, it seems probable, that the Sanhedrin of the Hebrews, as described in the Talmud, had its origin at the time when the Jews were under the power of the Macedonian Princes, the successors of Alexander the Great : and hence the name Synedrium, for the Macedonians called the Senators, by whose counsels the affairs of their government were administered, Synedria.* The reader may consult with advantage, the French letters, in which are presented the opinions of certain Dutch theologians concerning the Critica Sacra of R. Simon, Lett. x. also Lett. vi. of their Apologist. See also Conringii Eserc. de Rep. Ebraeorum, $ 21. The most useful work, however, upon this subject is of later date, by Joh. Vorstius, de Synedriis Hebraeorum.
* Liv. L. Ixv. Cap. xxill
Leben des Erasmus von Rotterdam. Mit einleiters den Betrachtungen über die analoge Entwickelung der Menschheit und des einzelnen Menschen. Von Adolf Müller. Eine gekrönte Preisschrift. Hamburg, bei Friedrich Perthes. 1828. pp. 394. 8vo.
On the third of August, 1826, the Philosophical faculty in the University of Berlin, offered a premium for the best work upon the life and literary influence of Erasmus. The prize was awarded in the following year to the work before us, composed by a young man of Berlin, of whom we know nothing, but the fact which be mentions in the preface, that he is totally blind. Of this volume, eighty-six pages are occupied with a treatise on the analogy between the progress of human society, and that of the individual man. That this disproportionate mass of abstract disquisition is wholly irrelevant and foreign from the subject, we have the author's own authority for saying. He apologizes, in his preface, for this large excrescence, confessing that it was appended to his book precipitately, and before he had allowed himself to see that it was inappropriate. It is clear, too, although he does not say it, that the discovery when made, was made too late, and that his parental fondness, as an author, forbade the sacrifice of his misplaced abstractions. With these Prolegomena we shall not meddle, but proceed to the life itself. Even on that, however, we shall offer little in the way of criticism, but rather avail oursclves of its assistance, in presenting a compendious view of the life of the great man, whom it commemorates. The biography of Erasmus is, by no means, a new subject; but must always be an interesting one. His merit as a writer and a scholar, in itself considered, would suffice to give him a high rank among modern literati, an elevation much enhanced by the part which he bore in the revival of letters, and the relations in which he stood to the Reformers and the Reformation. In the different accounts of his life and character which have been given, there is some discrepancy, confusion, and obscurity, Erasmus was too deeply involved in the absorbing and momentous controversies which disturbed his times, to maintain the pacific neutrality at which he aimed. He was not without enemies, nor without imprudent friends. His picture has, therefore, been often overdrawn. Malice has exaggerated all his faults ; partiality has softened all his foibles, and both at the expense of historical and moral truth. It is gratifying, therefore, to find the subject treated dispassionately and impartially, by one who has given much attention to the subject, and in a work which comes recommended by the preference and sanction of a learned faculty in one of the first Universities of Europe. It was not to be expected that any thing essential or important could be added to the facts already known; nor is such the case in relation to this work. But that doubtful questions should be solved, contradictions reconciled, falsehoods detected, obscurities elucidated, and the truth exhibited at equal distance from the opposite extremes of favour and dispraise, were all desiderata. How far they are accomplished in the work before us, we shall not pretend to say, but shall make use of what it has accomplished, to exhibit an impartial, though concise, account of the subject to our readers. In so doing, we shall state the leading facts chronologically, without annecessary disquisition, or minute and scrupulous detail,