The Fardle of Facions, by Johannes Boemus

The iiii. Chapiter.

Of Iewry, and of the life, maners, and Lawes of the Iewes.

Palestina, whiche also is named Iudea, beinge a seueralle prouince of Siria; lieth betwixte Arabia Petrea, and the countrie Coelosiria. So bordering vpon the Egiptian sea on the West, and vpon the floude Iordon on the Easte, that the one with his waues wassheth his clieues, and the other sometime with his streame ouerfloweth his banckes.

The Bible, and Iosephus by ensample therof called this londe Cananea: a countrie renowned for manifolde substaunce. Fertile of soyle, well watered with riuers, and springes, and rich with precious balme. Lienge in the nauelle of the world, that it neither might be broyled with heate, ne frosen with colde. By the reason of the which mildenes of aier, it was iudged by the Israelites or Hebrues, (and rightlye so iudged) to be the country that God promised vnto Abraham, Isaac, and Iacob, flowinge in aboundaunce of milke and honie. Vpon the hope of enioyinge of this londe, folowed they Moses oute of Egipte fortye yeres wandering in Campe. And before thei ware broughte into Cananea by Iosua, his substitute, ouercame with strong hande, one and thirty kinges.

This is the people that onely of all other may chalenge the honour of auncientie. This is the people alone the mighte haue glorified in the wisedome, and vnmedled puritie of Language, as beinge of all other the firste. This is the people that was mother of lettres, and sciences. Amonge these remained the knowledge of the onely and euerliuinge God, and the certeintie of the religion that was pleasaunte in his eies. Among these was the knowledge, and foreknowledge of al, sauinge that Helas, they knewe not the visitour of their wealthe and the ende of their wo, Iesus the sauioure of all that woulde knowe him, and sieke life in his deathe. But him whome thei knew not, when by reason thei should: him shal thei yet ones knowe in time when the father woulde.

The Israelites, the Hebrues or the Iewes (for all in effecte soundeth one people) liue aftre the rule of the lawes, whiche Moses their worthy duke, and deuine chiefteine, declared vnto theim. Withoute the whiche also or anye other written, thei liued holily, hundred of yeares before: atteininge to the truthes hidden from other, by a singuler gifte aboue other. That Philosophre of Philosophers, and deuine of deuines, Moses the marueilous, waienge in his insight, that no multitude assembled, coulde be gouerned to continuaunce without ordres of equitie and lawes: when with rewardes to the good, and reuenge vpon the euill, he had sufficiently exhorted, and trained his people to the desire of vertue, and the hate of the contrarie: at the last beside the two tables receiued in the mounte Sinah, added ordres of discipline, and ciuile gouernaunce, full of all goodlines and equitie. Whiche Iosephus, the Iewe, (a manne of greate knowledge, and eloquence, aswel in the Hebrewe, his natural tongue, as in the Grieke, amonge whome he liued in notable fame not a fewe yeres) hath gathered, and framed into one seuerall treatise. Out of the which, because I rather fansie, if I maye with like commoditie, to folowe the founteines of the first Authours, then the brokes28 of abredgers, which often bring with them much puddle: I haue here translated, and annexed to the ende of this booke, those ordres of the Iewes commune welthe, sendyng the for the reste to the Bible. And yet notwithstanding, loke what I founde in this Abredger, neither mencioned in the bible, nor in that treatise, the same thus ordrely foloweth.

The heathen writers, and the Christianes, do muche diffre concerninge the Iewes, and Moyses their chiefteine. For Cornelius the stylle29 in his firste booke of his yerely exploictes, called in Latine Annales, dothe not ascribe their departure oute of Egipte to the power and commaundement of God: but vnto necessitie, and constrainte, with these wordes:

A great skuruines, and an yche saieth he, beinge risen throughe oute Egipte, Bocchoris, the king sekynge remedye in the Temple of Iupiter Hammon, was willed by responcion to clense his kingdome: And to sende awaye that kinde of people whom the goddes hated (he meaneth the Iewes) into some other contrey. The whiche when he had done, and they (as the poompe of al skuruines, not knowing wher to become) laye cowring vndre hedges, and busshes, in places desert, and many of them dropped away, for sorowe and disease: Moyses (whiche also was one of the outecastes, saieth be) counselled them not to sitte ther, awayting aftre the helpe of God or of man, whiche thei ware not like to haue: but to folowe him as their capteine, and lodesman, and committe them selues vnto his gouernaunce. And that hervnto thei all agreinge, at wilde aduentures, withoute knowing what thei did, tooke their iorney. In the which thei ware sore troubled, and harde bestadde,30 for lacke of water. In this distresse, when thei ware now ready to lye them downe, and die for thirst, Moyses espienge a great heard of wilde Chamelles comming fro their fiedinge, and going into woddie place ther beside, folowed them. And iudginge the place not to be without watre, for that he sawe it fresshe and grene, digged and founde plenty of watre. Wherwith when thei had releued themselues, thei passed on. vi. daies iourney: and so exployted that the seuenth daye thei where thei builte their Citie, and their temple. Moyses had beaten out all the enhabitauntes of the contry, then to the entent he might satle the peoples hartes towarde him for euer: deuised them newe ordres, and ceremonies cleane contrary to all other nacions. For (saieth Cornelius) Looke what so euer is holy amonge vs, the same is amonge them the contrary. And what so euer to vs is vnlawfulle, that same is compted lawefull amonge theim. The ymage of the beaste that shewed them the waye to the waters, and the ende of their wanderinge: did they set vp in their chambres, and offre vnto it a rambe, in the despight of Iupiter Hammon, whom we worship in the fourme of a Rambe. And because the Egiptians worshippe their goddesse Apis in the fourme of a cowe, therforethei vse to slea also in sacrifice a cowe. Swines flesshe thei eate none, for that thei holde opinion that this kynde of beaste, of it selfe beinge disposed to be skoruie, mighte be occasion againe to enfecte them of newe. The seuenth daye thei make holy day. That, is to say spende awaie in ydlenes and rest: for that on the seuenth daye, they founde reste of theyr wandering, and misery. And when they had caughte a sauour in this holye daye loytering: it came to passein processe of tyme, that thei made a longe holydaye also of the whole seuenth yere: But other holde opinion that thei do obserue suche maner of holyedaies, in the honour of Saturne the god of fasting and famine: with whose whippe thei are lothe againe to be punisshed. Their breade is vnleauened. These ceremonies and deuises, by what meanes so euer thei ware brought in amonge them, thei do stiffely defende. As thei are naturally giuen, to be stiffe in beliefe, and depe in loue with their owne althoughe towarde alother thei be most hatefull enemies. So that theineither will eate ne drincke with them: no nor lye in the chambre that a straunger of a nother nacion lyeth in. A people altogether giuen vnto leachery, and yet absteining from the enbrasinges of the straunger. Emong them selues thei iudge nothinge vnlawfull. Thei deuised to rounde of the foreskinne of their yarde (whiche we call circumcision) because thei would haue a notable knowledge betwene them, and other nacions. And the firste lesson thei teache vnto their children, is to despise the goddes. The soules of those that die in tormentes, or in warre, thei iudge to be immortall. A continuall feare haue thei, and a regard of heauen and helle. And where the Egiptians honour many similitudes and Images of beastes, and other creatures, whiche thei make themselues: the Iewes onely doe honour with their spirite and minde, and conceiue in their vndrestandyng, but one onely Godheade. Iudging all other that worshippe the Images of creatures, or of manne: to bee vngodlie and wicked. These and many other thinges doth Cornelius write, and Trogus also in his xxxvi. booke.

There ware amonge the Iewes thre seueralle sectes, differyng in life from the reast of the people. The Phariseis, the Sadduceis, and the Esseis. The Phariseis vsed a certeine rough solempnesse of appareille, and a very skante fare: determinyng the Tradicions of Moyses, by certein ordenaunces and decrees, whiche they themselues sette vp. Thei caried vpon their foreheades, and on their lefte armes pretie billettes of Paper, facioned for the place, wherein ware written the tenne preceptes of the two Tables. And this did thei for that the Lorde saieth: And these shall thou haue (meanyng the commaundements) as a remembraunce hanging before thine eyes, and alwaie ready at thine hande. These were called their Philacteries, of these two woordes Phylexi and Thorat, wherof the former signifieth to Kiepe, and the other, the Lawe. These menne also hauyng vppon their skirtes muche broder gardes then other, stacke them full of Thornes, whiche beatyng and prickyng them on the hieles as thei wente, might putte them in remembraunce of the commaundementes of God. Thei attributed all thynges vnto God, and destenie, which they call Emarmeni. Neuertheles thei graunted, that it laie muche in the free choise of manne: either to doe, or not to doe the thinges that are iust and godlie, but yet destenie to helpe in al cases. Whiche destenie thei thought to depende of the influence of the bodies aboue. Looke what their superiors and Elders had saied, or answered to any demaunde, thei neuer would contrarie it. Thei belieued that GOD should come to Iudge the worlde, and that all soules ware euerlastyng. And as for the soules of the good, thei helde opinion, that thei passed from one bodie to another, vntill the daie of the generall resurrection. But the soules of the wicked, to be plonged into euerlasting prison and dongeon. The name of Pharisei was giuen vnto them for that thei ware disguised fro the commune maner of other, as ye would saie, Sequestred.

The Sadduceis denied that there was any destenie, but that God was the beholder of all, and that it laie in the choise of manne, to do well or euill. And as for ioye or sorowe that the soule should suffre aftre this life, thei denied. Neither belieued thei any resurrection: because thei thoughte the soule died with the bodie. Thei would not belieue that there ware any spirites, good or bad. Neither would thei receiue more of the Bible, then the fiue bookes of Moses. Thei ware sterne men, and vncompaignable: not so muche as ones kepyng felowshippe one with another. For the whiche sternesse, thei named theim selues Sadduceis, that is to saie iuste menne.

The Esseis ware in all pointes verie like vnto our cloisterers, abhorryng mariage and the companie of women. Not for that thei condempned Mariage, or the procreation of issue, but for that thei iudged a manne ought to be ware of the intemperauncie of women. And that no woman kept herself true to her husbande. Oh shameful opinion, and muche better to be reported by the dead, then to be credited of the quicke, bee it neuer so true. Thei possessed all thinges in commune. As for checkes or reuilings, was to them muske and honie, and slouenly vndaftinesse, a great comelinesse. So that thei ware alwaie in a white surcote, all was well. Thei had no certein abiding in any one citie: but Celles ouer all, where so euer thei became. Before the risyng of the Sonne, they spake nothyng that touched any worldly affair: but praied the Sonne to rise. After whose vprijste thei laboured vntill eleuen of the clocke. And then, washyng firste their whole bodie in water: thei satte doune together to meate, in solempne silence euery manne. Swearing they compted forswearyng. Thei admitted no manne to their secte, vndre a yere of probation. And aftre what time thei had receiued him: yet had thei two yeres more to proue his maners and condicions. Suche as thei tooke with a faulte, thei draue fro their compaignie. Enioyned by the waie of penaunce, to go a grasing like a beast, vntill his dieng daie. When tenne ware sette in a companie together, no one of them spake without the consente of the other nyne. Thei woulde not spitte within the precincte of the compaignie emong theim, ne yeat on their righte side. They kept the Sabboth with suche a precisenesse, that thei would not that daie, ease nature of the belie burden. And when vpon other daies, nature forced theim to that easemente, thei caried with theim a litle spade of woode, wherewith in place most secreate, thei vsed to digge a litle pit, to laie their bealie in. And in the time of doyng, thei also vsed a very greate circumspection, that their clothes laie close to the grounde rounde aboute theim, for offending (saied thei) of the Maiestie of God. Vpon whiche respecte, thei also couered and bewried it, assone as thei had done that nature required. Thei ware of verie long life, by the reason of the vnifourme diete that thei vsed, alwaie aftre one rate of fare: whiche was onely the fruicte of their countrie Balme. Thei occupied no money. If any manne suffered for wel doyng, or as wrongfully condempned, that thoughte thei the beste kinde of death. Thei helde opinion that all soules ware made in the beginnyng, and put in to bodies from tyme to tyme, as bodies did niede them. And for the good soules beyng ridde of their bodies againe, thei saied there was a place appointed beyond the Weast Occean, where thei take repose. But for the euill, thei appoincted places toward the East, as, more stormie colde and vnpleasante. Ther ware amonge them that prophecied thinges. Some of them gaue themselues to wedlocke: least if they shoulde be of the oppinion that men oughte to absteine vttrely from women, mankinde shoulde fade, and in processe be extincte, yeat vsed thei the compaignie of their wiues nothing at riote.

The lande of Siria (whereof we haue named Iewrie a parte) is at this daie enhabited of the Grekes, called Griphones, of the Iacobites, Nestorians, Sarracenes, and of two Christian nations, the Sirians and Marouines. The Sirians vse the saie Masse, aftre the maner of the Grekes: and for a space ware subiecte to the churche of Rome.

The Marouines agree in opinion with the Iacobites. Their lettres and tongue are al one with the Arabique. These Christianes dwelle at the Mounte Libanus. The Sarracenes, whiche dwelle aboute Ierusalem (a people valeaunt in warre) delight muche in housbondrie and tilthe. But contrary wise, thei that enhabite Siria, in that poincte are nothing worth. The Marouines are fewe in nombre, but of all other thei are the hardieste.

28 Broke, literally, broken meat. It here means “disconnected passages.”

29 Cornelius Tacitus. The reference, however, is wrong. The passage quoted does not appear in the Annals: it is from Book v., § 5. of the History.

30 Beset. “What then behoveth so bestad to done.” Gascoigne’s Works, 1587.

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:27