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Few subjects are more interesting to the Christian scholar than the antiquities and customs of the Jews. They gratify a laudable curiosity concerning a people who have long made a conspicuous figure in history, and throw much light on the sacred oracles. Yet the information to be obtained has hitherto been confined, in a great measure, to a few; for the volumes which treat of them are either written in a language not generally understood; or so large as to be beyond the ability of many to purchase; or the subjects are explained in such a way, and accompanied with such quotations from the Hebrew especially, as to render the understanding of them either difficult or impossible. The design, therefore, of the following work, is to obviate this difficulty so far as its subject is concerned; and to present the reader with a considerable portion of information in a simple form, and at a moderate expense.
In describing the tabernacle, his chief authority was the Pentateuch; but as that led to other subjects connected with that singular structure, his other authorities will be found in their proper places.
When treating of the temple, its courts and buildings, there were only four sources of information, viz. the accounts of the first and second temples, as given in the books of Kings, Chronicles, and Ezra; the account of the temple given by Ezekiel, and explained by Villalpandus; Josephus's description of the same buildings; and the description of the temple that was built by Herod, and existed in the days of our Saviour, as given in the Talmud, and those authors who have collected their information from the Talmudical writings. The author has preferred the last of these, as the ground-work of this part of his plan, because it was the most minute and because all the differences in the other accounts of this venerable structure could easily be noticed in the course of the description. Dr. Lightfoot's “ Prospect of the Temple,” therefore, “ especially as it stood in the days of our Saviour;" Bernardus Lamy “ De tabernaculo fæderis, de sancta civi. tate Jerusalem, et de Templo ejus;" Ludovicus Capellus's “ Templi Hierosolymitani delineationes ex Villalpando, Josepho, et Judæorum in Talmude descriptione;" and the treatise of Arias Montanus, entitled, “ Ariel; sive De Templi fabricâ et structura,” are the authorities he has followed, where no other are particularly mentioned. They are all compiled either at first or second hand from the Mishna, Gemara and Maimonides.
On the ministers and service of the temple, their feasts and fasts, besides the holy Scriptures and Josephus, the author has been much indebted to Dr. Lightfoot's treatise on “ The Temple Service;' to Arias Montanus's “ Aaron; sive Sanctorum vestimentorum et ornatus descriptio;" to the former treatise of Lamy; Calmet's Dictionary ;