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The allusions to objects of natural
philosophy are frequent and strong, and are of a different cast to any
thing in the books known to be Hebrew. The astronomical names, Pleiades,
Orion, and Arcturus, are Greek and not Hebrew names, and it does not
appear from any thing that is to be found in the Bible that the Jews
knew any thing of astronomy, or that they studied it, they had no
translation of those names into their own language, but adopted the
names as they found them in the poem. [Paine's Jewish critic, David
Levi, fastened on this slip ("Defence of the Old Testament," 1797, p.
152). In the original the names are Ash (Arcturus), Kesil' (Orion),
Kimah' (Pleiades), though the identifications of the constellations in
the A.S.V. have been questioned.--Editor.]

That the Jews did translate the literary productions of the Gentile
nations into the Hebrew language, and mix them with their own, is not a
matter of doubt; Proverbs xxxi. i, is an evidence of this: it is there
said, The word of king Lemuel, the prophecy which his mother taught him.
This verse stands as a preface to the proverbs that follow, and which
are not the proverbs of Solomon, but of Lemuel; and this Lemuel was not
one of the kings of Israel, nor of Judah, but of some other country, and
consequently a Gentile. The Jews however have adopted his proverbs; and
as they cannot give any account who the author of the book of Job was,
nor how they came by the book, and as it differs in character from the
Hebrew writings, and stands totally unconnected with every other
book and chapter in the Bible before it and after it, it has all the
circumstantial evidence of being originally a book of the Gentiles.
[The prayer known by the name of Agur's Prayer, in Proverbs
xxx.,--immediately preceding the proverbs of Lemuel,--and which is the
only sensible, well-conceived, and well-expressed prayer in the Bible,
has much the appearance of being a prayer taken from the Gentiles.
The name of Agur occurs on no other occasion than this; and he is
introduced, together with the prayer ascribed to him, in the same
manner, and nearly in the same words, that Lemuel and his proverbs are
introduced in the chapter that follows. The first verse says, "The words
of Agur, the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy:" here the word prophecy
is used with the same application it has in the following chapter of
Lemuel, unconnected with anything of prediction. The prayer of Agur is
in the 8th and 9th verses, "Remove far from me vanity and lies; give
me neither riches nor poverty, but feed me with food convenient for me;
lest I be full and deny thee and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor
and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." This has not any of the
marks of being a Jewish prayer, for the Jews never prayed but when
they were in trouble, and never for anything but victory, vengeance,
or riches.--Author. (Prov. xxx. 1, and xxxi. 1) the word "prophecy" in
these verses is translated "oracle" or "burden" (marg.) in the revised
version.--The prayer of Agur was quoted by Paine in his plea for the
officers of Excise, 1772.--Editor.]

The Bible-makers, and those regulators of time, the Bible chronologists,
appear to have been at a loss where to place and how to dispose of
the book of Job; for it contains no one historical circumstance, nor
allusion to any, that might serve to determine its place in the Bible.
But it would not have answered the purpose of these men to have informed
the world of their ignorance; and, therefore, they have affixed it to
the aera of B.C. 1520, which is during the time the Israelites were in
Egypt, and for which they have just as much authority and no more than
I should have for saying it was a thousand years before that period. The
probability however is, that it is older than any book in the Bible; and
it is the only one that can be read without indignation or disgust.

We know nothing of what the ancient Gentile world (as it is called) was
before the time of the Jews, whose practice has been to calumniate and
blacken the character of all other nations; and it is from the Jewish
accounts that we have learned to call them heathens. But, as far as
we know to the contrary, they were a just and moral people, and not
addicted, like the Jews, to cruelty and revenge, but of whose profession
of faith we are unacquainted. It appears to have been their custom
to personify both virtue and vice by statues and images, as is done
now-a-days both by statuary and by painting; but it does not follow from
this that they worshipped them any more than we do.--I pass on to the
book of,

Psalms, of which it is not necessary to make much observation. Some of
them are moral, and others are very revengeful; and the greater part
relates to certain local circumstances of the Jewish nation at the time
they were written, with which we have nothing to do. It is, however,
an error or an imposition to call them the Psalms of David; they are a
collection, as song-books are now-a-days, from different song-writers,
who lived at different times. The 137th Psalm could not have been
written till more than 400 years after the time of David, because it
is written in commemoration of an event, the captivity of the Jews in
Babylon, which did not happen till that distance of time. "By the rivers
of Babylon we sat down; yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged
our harps upon the willows, in the midst thereof; for there they that
carried us away captive required of us a song, saying, sing us one
of the songs of Zion." As a man would say to an American, or to a
Frenchman, or to an Englishman, sing us one of your American songs, or
your French songs, or your English songs. This remark, with respect to
the time this psalm was written, is of no other use than to show (among
others already mentioned) the general imposition the world has been
under with respect to the authors of the Bible. No regard has been paid
to time, place, and circumstance; and the names of persons have been
affixed to the several books which it was as impossible they should
write, as that a man should walk in procession at his own funeral.

The Book of Proverbs. These, like the Psalms, are a collection, and that
from authors belonging to other nations than those of the Jewish nation,
as I have shewn in the observations upon the book of Job; besides which,
some of the Proverbs ascribed to Solomon did not appear till two hundred
and fifty years after the death of Solomon; for it is said in xxv. i,
"These are also proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah, king of
Judah, copied out." It was two hundred and fifty years from the time of
Solomon to the time of Hezekiah. When a man is famous and his name is
abroad he is made the putative father of things he never said or did;
and this, most probably, has been the case with Solomon. It appears to
have been the fashion of that day to make proverbs, as it is now to
make jest-books, and father them upon those who never saw them. [A "Tom
Paine's Jest Book" had appeared in London with little or nothing of
Paine in it.--Editor.]

The book of Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher, is also ascribed to Solomon,
and that with much reason, if not with truth. It is written as the
solitary reflections of a worn-out debauchee, such as Solomon was, who
looking back on scenes he can no longer enjoy, cries out All is Vanity!
A great deal of the metaphor and of the sentiment is obscure, most
probably by translation; but enough is left to show they were strongly
pointed in the original. [Those that look out of the window shall
be darkened, is an obscure figure in translation for loss of
sight.--Author.] From what is transmitted to us of the character of
Solomon, he was witty, ostentatious, dissolute, and at last melancholy.
He lived fast, and died, tired of the world, at the age of fifty-eight
years.

Seven hundred wives, and three hundred concubines, are worse than
none; and, however it may carry with it the appearance of heightened
enjoyment, it defeats all the felicity of affection, by leaving it no
point to fix upon; divided love is never happy. This was the case
with Solomon; and if he could not, with all his pretensions to wisdom,
discover it beforehand, he merited, unpitied, the mortification he
afterwards endured. In this point of view, his preaching is unnecessary,
because, to know the consequences, it is only necessary to know the
cause. Seven hundred wives, and three hundred concubines would have
stood in place of the whole book. It was needless after this to say that
all was vanity and vexation of spirit; for it is impossible to derive
happiness from the company of those whom we deprive of happiness.

To be happy in old age it is necessary that we accustom ourselves to
objects that can accompany the mind all the way through life, and that
we take the rest as good in their day. The mere man of pleasure is
miserable in old age; and the mere drudge in business is but little
better: whereas, natural philosophy, mathematical and mechanical
science, are a continual source of tranquil pleasure, and in spite of
the gloomy dogmas of priests, and of superstition, the study of those
things is the study of the true theology; it teaches man to know and to
admire the Creator, for the principles of science are in the creation,
and are unchangeable, and of divine origin.

Those who knew Benjamin Franklin will recollect, that his mind was
ever young; his temper ever serene; science, that never grows grey, was
always his mistress. He was never without an object; for when we cease
to have an object we become like an invalid in an hospital waiting for
death.

Solomon's Songs, amorous and foolish enough, but which wrinkled
fanaticism has called divine.--The compilers of the Bible have placed
these songs after the book of Ecclesiastes; and the chronologists have
affixed to them the aera of B.C. 1014, at which time Solomon, according
to the same chronology, was nineteen years of age, and was then
forming his seraglio of wives and concubines. The Bible-makers and
the chronologists should have managed this matter a little better,
and either have said nothing about the time, or chosen a time less
inconsistent with the supposed divinity of those songs; for Solomon was
then in the honey-moon of one thousand debaucheries.

It should also have occurred to them, that as he wrote, if he did
write, the book of Ecclesiastes, long after these songs, and in which
he exclaims that all is vanity and vexation of spirit, that he included
those songs in that description.



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