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THE books which are admitted into our Bibles under the description of Apocryphal Books, are so denominated

from a Greek word which is expressive of the uncertainty and concealed nature of their original, and which seems to have been at first applied only to books of doubtful authority, but afterwards to have been employed to characterize spurious and pernicious books. These books have no title to be considered as inspired writings; and though in respect to their antiquity and valuable contents they are annexed to the canonical books, it is in a separate division, and by no means upon an idea that they are of equal authority, in point of doctrine, with them; or that they are to be received as oracles of faith, to sanctify opinions, or to determine religious controversies. It is universally allowed, that these books were not in the canon of the Jews, to whom alone “were committed the oracles of God,” Rom. üi. 2; and, indeed, that they were composed after the closing of the sacred catalogue: though some writers, without a shadow of authority, have pretended that some of them, as Tobit, Judith, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and perhaps others, were received by the Jews into a second canon, said to be made by a council assembled at Jerusalem in the time of Eleazar the high priest, upon the occasion of sending the seventy-two interpreters to Ptolemy king of Egypt; and that the rest were canonized by a third council, assembled in the time of Sammai and Hillel. But of these councils, the Jews, tenacious as they are of traditions, have no account or memorial; and the books in question were composed after the cessation of the prophetick spirit, by persons who displayed no characters of inspiration, and some of whom seem to have disclaimed pretensions to it, (1 Macc. ix. 27; 2 Macc. ii. 30, 31; xv. 38 :) and therefore they were regarded by the Jews as among the writings which they termed sacred, in an inferiour sense of that word. The books of Tobit and Judith were, indeed, supposed by the rabbinical conceits to have been derived from lower inspiration. But this was an absurd fancy, and none of the books are cited either as prophetick or doctrinal by our Saviour or His Apostles; and though some writers have pretended to discover a coincidence between certain passages contained in them, and others in the New Testament, it will be found that the evangelical writers on these occasions only accidentally concur in sentiment or expression with the authors of the Apocryphal books; or that the resemblance results from an imitation of passages in the sacred writings of the Old Testament, which the Evangelical and Apocryphal writers might equally have had in view. But indeed if any occasional allusion, or borrowed expressions could be proved, they would by no means establish the authority of the Apocryphal books; which might be referred to, as were other books, by the sacred writers, without any design to confer on them a character of Divine authority, 2 Tim. iii. 8; Heb. xii, 21; Jude ver. 14.

These Apocryphal books constituted no part of the Septuagint version of the Scriptures, as set forth by the trans

lators under Ptolemy. It is supposed that many of them at least were received by the Jewish synagogue established at Jerusalem, which possibly might have derived its origin from the period of that translation. From the Hellenistick Jews they were probably accepted by the Christian Church: but by whomsoever, and at whatever time they were communicated, it is certain that they were not received as canonical, or enrolled among the productions of the inspired writers; since they are not in any of the earlier catalogues, and are excluded from the sacred list by the fathers of the Greek and Latin church, who flourished during the four first centuries; though they are often cited by them as valuable and instructive works, and sometimes even as divine, and as Scripture in a loose and popular sense. In the language of the primitive Church they were styled ecclesiastical, as distinguished from those infallible works which were canonized as unquestionably inspired, and also from those erroneous and pernicious writings which were stigmatized and proscribed as Apocryphal. Abundant testimonies have been produced to prove that they were not received as canonical during the four first centuries, and they have never been generally admitted into the canon of the Greek church. In the fifth century St. Austin and the council of Carthage appear to have admitted (rather in deference to popular opinion, and in compliance with that reverence which had arisen from use) most of the Apocryphal books as canonical; meaning, however, canonical in a secondary sense; as useful to be read; and still with distinction from those sacred and inspired books, which were established on the sanction of the Jewish canon, and on the testimony of our Saviour and His Apostles. After this time, other fathers and councils seem occasionally to have considered these Books as canonical, and inferiour only to the sacred writings; but always with distinction, and with express declaration of their inferiority when that question was strictly agitated; till at length the council of Trent, notwithstanding the testimony of all Jewish antiquity, and contrary to the sense of the primitive Church, thought fit to pronounce them all, (except the Prayer of Manasses, and the two books of Esdras,) together with the unwritten traditions relative to faith and manners, as strictly and in every sense canonical, and of the same authority as those undoubted books which had been copied from the Jewish into the Christian canon; and received the attestation of Christ and His Apostles: of which the inspiration was manifested by the character of their composers, and proved by the accomplishment of those prophecies which they contain. This canon was confirmed by severe anathemas against all who should reject it. And from this time the Roman Catholicks have endeavoured to maintain the canonical authority of these books, though their most strenuous advocates


are obliged to allow that they were not received into the canon of Ezra. They are compelled to allow a superiority, as to external sanctions, to those uncontroverted books which are exclusively canonized in the earliest and most authentick catalogues of the Christian Church; and they labour to defend the decision of the council of Trent as to the Apocryphal writings, by appealing to the authority of preceding councils, of which the canons were never generally received, and which admitted the contested books as canonical only in a subordinate and secondary sense. It is therefore upon the most just and tenable grounds that our Church has framed her sixth Article ; where, in agreement with all Protestant churches, she adheres in her catalogue to those writings of which there never was any doubt; and, agreeably to the doctrine of the four Patriarchal churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, and Constantinople, rejects those books which are styled Apocryphal in our Bibles, though she reads them, as St. Jerome observes did the Western church, “for example of life and instruction of manners.” And it must be confessed in general, that notwithstanding some passages of exceptionable tendency,

sons who being intimately conversant with the sacred writings, had, as it were, imbibed their spirit, and caught their pious enthusiasm. Whoever reads them with attention, must occasionally be struck by the splendid sentiments, and sublime descriptions which they contain. They sometimes likewise present us with passages borrowed from the sacred writings, and with the finest imitations of inspired eloquence; they include perhaps some scattered fragments of Divine wisdom, and some traditional precepts derived from men enlightened by a prophetick spirit. They occasionally illustrate the accomplishment of prophecy; and throw light on the Scriptures by explaining the manners, sentiments, and history of the Jews. They bear then an indirect and impartial testimony to the truth of our religion; they are venerable for their antiquity, recommended by long established approbation, and in some measure consecrated to our regard by the commendations of the church, and by being annexed to the inspired writings. Where they are defective, they may have been perhaps injured or corrupted by subsequent additions, as not being watched over with such religious care as the sacred books. Those who are disposed to profit by their perusal, will find it not difficult, by the light of the inspired books, to discriminate and select what is excellent and consistent with truth, and to reject such objectionable particulars as prove them to be the production of unassisted and sometimes mistaken men. Dr. Gray.

It is worthy of remark, that the Roman Catholicks find in the Apocryphal books a colour for some few points in their religion, for which they can find no support in the real Word of God: and this seems to be a principal reason why they have maintained the authority of these books as equal to that of the writings of the Old and New Testament. Humphreys.

In conformity to the general practice of the early Christian Churches, the Church of England still continues the use of the Apocryphal books in her publick service; though not with any design to lessen the authority of canonical Scripture, which she expressly affirms to be the only rule of faith ; declaring that “the Church doth read the other books for an example of life and instruction of manners, but yet doth not apply them to establish any doctrine.” Nor is there any one Sunday in the year, that has any of its lessons taken from the Apocrypha: for, as the greatest assemblies of Christians are on those days, it is wisely ordered that they should then be instructed out of the undisputed word of God. Wheatley.


INTRODUCTION. THE first book of Esdras, or Ezra, (for the name is the same,) was certainly not written by Ezra, whose authen

tick work it contradicts in many particulars : and it has no pretensions to be revered as the production of an inspired person, although great part of it be extracted from the sacred writings.

It is generally supposed to have been the work of some Hellenistick Jew; that is, of a Jew resident in some

country where the Greek language was spoken. It is uncertain at what time it was composed; but, since the particulars contained in it are related by Josephus, it was probably written before the time of that historian, wbo died about the year 93 of the Christian era. . The book, though in its style it has much of the Hebrew idiom, was probably never extant in that language; at least, it was certainly not admitted into the Hebrew canon. It was annexed however to some copies of the Septuagint, or authorized Greek version; and placed in some manuscripts before the book of Ezra, that of Nehemiah being inserted between the two. Standing in that order, it was called the first book of Ezra ; and the authentick work of Ezra, together with that of Nehemiah, which seems to have been joined with it, was called the second book of Ezra. This arrangement was probably adopted with reference to the chronological order of the events described. In some Greek editions, however, this book is placed, with more propriety as to its character, between the Song of the Three Children, and the Wisdom of Solomon.

respectable work, but never as of equal authority with the canonical books.

The name of Ezra, it should be observed, was at all times particularly reverenced by the Jews, who were accusa tomed, in honour of his memory, to remark, that he was worthy that the law should have been given by his


Apocrypha. hands to Israel, if Moses had not been before him. In consequence of this reputation, numberless suspicious works were published at different times under his name, which were received as authentick by the credulous and unlearned.

The first book of Esdras begins by a description of the magnificent passover celebrated by king Josias; it after

wards relates the death of that prince, and the history of his successors till the capture of Jerusalem, all taken from the two last chapters of 2 Chronicles. In the third and fourth chapters is related a contest for a prize held before king Darius between three of his guards. Zerubbabel is declared the conqueror; and, being in consequence permitted to ask whatever he pleased, humbly implored Darius to fulfil the promise he had made of rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple ; Darius immediately complied, and afforded the Jews every assistance in the accomplishment of the work.

The rest of the work, which is chiefly compiled from the histories of Ezra and Nehemiah, contains some circum

stances of an improbable and contradictory character. There is nothing in it exceptionable with respect to doctrine or precept; but much doubtful matter is mixed with its accounts, and many particulars are introduced which cannot be reconciled with chronological order, and the relations of authentick Scripture. Dr. Gray, Calmet.

In the sixth Article of our Church, the first and second apocryphal books of Esdras are called the third and

fourth books of Esdras ; the canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah being there called the first and second books of Esdras.



Before CHRIST about 623,

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6 Offer the passover in order, and Before CHAP. I.

make ready the sacrifices for your about 623. 1 Josias his charge to the priests and Levites. | brethren, anak

ites, brethren, and keep the passover ac7 A great passover is kept. 32 His death cording to the commandment of the is much lamented. 34 His successors. 53 Lord, which was given unto Moses. The temple, city, and people are destroyed. 7 And unto the people that was 56 The rest are carried unto Babylon.

found there Josias gave thirty thoua 2 Kings 23. AND Josias held the a feast of the sand lambs and kids, and three thou2 Chron. 35.1. A. passover in Jerusalem unto his sand calves: these things were given

Lord, and offered the passover the of the king's allowance, according as
fourteenth day of the first month; he promised, to the people, to the

2 Having set the priests according priests, and to the Levites.
to their daily courses, being arrayed 8 And Helkias, Zacharias, and
in long garments, in the temple of the || Syelus, the governors of the temple, | 0r, Jehiel.

gave to the priests for the passover
3 And he spake unto the Levites, two thousand and six hundred sheep,
the holy ministers of Israel, that and three hundred calves.
they should hallow themselves unto 9 And Jeconias, and Samaias,
the Lord, to set the holy ark of the and Nathanael his brother, and Assa-
Lord in the house that king Solomon bias, and Ochiel, and Joram, captains
the son of David had built:

over thousands, gave to the Levites
4 And said, Ye shall no more bear for the passover five thousand sheep,
the ark upon your shoulders : now and || seven hundred calves.
therefore serve the Lord your God, 10 And when these things were curves,
and minister unto his people Israel, done, the priests and Levites, having
and prepare you after your families the unleavened bread, stood in very
and kindreds,

comely order according to the kin5 According as David the king of dreds, Israel prescribed, and according to l1 And according to the several the magnificence of Solomon his son: dignities of the fathers, before the and standing in the temple according people, to offer to the Lord, as it is to the several dignity of the families written in the book of Moses : band 1.2 Chron. 35. of you the Levites, who minister in thus did they in the morning. the presence of your brethren the 12 And they roasted the passover children of Israel,

with fire, as appertaineth: as for the

Or, five hundred

2 Chron. 35.9.

12, and so of the bullocks.

Chap. I. ver. 1. As the circumstances related in this which occur relating to them, to the passages pointed book are for the most part repeated from the canonical out in the margin. books of Scripture, the reader is referred, for the notes





bFor the priests ovites prepared basd be not against cias did not tur

15, of Darid and Asaph.

15, the king's seer.


Apocrypha Before sacrifices, they sod them in brass pots' 26 But the king of Egypt sent to about 623. and pans | with a good savour, him, saying, What have I to do with about 610.

13 And set them before all the thee, O king of Judea ? 1 Or, with good speed, or, people: and afterwards they prepared 27 I am not sent out from the 2 Chron. 35. for themselves, and for the priests Lord God against thee; for my war

their brethren, the sons of Aaron. is upon Euphrates: and now the Lord

14 For the priests offered the fat is with me, yea, the Lord is with me until night: and the Levites prepared hasting me forward : depart from me, for themselves, and the priests their and be not against the Lord. brethren, the sons of Aaron.

28 Howbeit Josias did not turn 15 The holy singers also, the sons back his chariot from him, but under

of Asaph, were in their order, ac- took to fight with him, not regarding
62 Chron. 35. cording to the appointment of Da- the words of the prophet Jeremy
and Asaph. vid, to wit, Asaph, Zacharias, and spoken by the mouth of the Lord :
d 2 Chron. 35. Jeduthun, who was d of the king's 29 But joined battle with him in

the plain of Magiddo, and the princes
16 Moreover the porters were at came against king Josias.
every gate ; it was not lawful for any | 30 Then said the king unto his
to go from his ordinary service : for servants, Carry me away out of the
their brethren the Levites prepared battle; for I am very weak. And
for them.

immediately his servants took him
17 Thus were the things that be- away out of the battle.
longed to the sacrifices of the Lord 31 Then gat he up upon his se-
accomplished in that day, that they cond chariot; and being brought back
might hold the passover,

to Jerusalem died, and was buried in
18 And offer sacrifices upon the his father's sepulchre.
altar of the Lord, according to the 32 And in all Jewry they mourned
commandment of king Josias. | for Josias, yea, Jeremy the prophet

19 So the children of Israel which lamented for Josias, and the chief
were present held the passover at that men with the women made lamenta-
time, and the feast of sweet bread tion for him unto this day: and this
seven days.

was given out for an ordinance to be
20 And such a passover was not done continually in all the nation of
kept in Israel since the time of the Israel.
prophet Samuel.

| 33 These things are written in the
21 Yea, all the kings of Israel held book of the stories of the kings of
not such a passover as Josias, and Judah, and every one of the acts that
the priests, and the Levites, and the Josias did, and his glory, and his
Jews, held with all Israel that were understanding in the law of the Lord,
found dwelling at Jerusalem. and the things that he had done be-

22 In the eighteenth year of the fore, and the things now recited, are reign of Josias was this passover reported in the book of the kings of kept.

Israel and Judea. 23 And the works of Josias were 34 f And the people took Joachaz about 610. upright before his Lord with an heart the son of Josias, and made him king 30. full of godliness.

instead of Josias his father, when he 2 Chron. 36 1. 24 As for the things that came to was twenty and three years old. pass in his time, they were written in 35 And he reigned in Judea and former times, concerning those that in Jerusalem three months : and then sinned, and || did wickedly against the king of Egypt deposed him from the Lord above all people and king-reigning in Jerusalem.

doms, and how they grieved him 36 And he set a tax upon the land || Or, sensibly. || exceedingly, so that the words of the of an hundred talents of silver and Lord rose up against Israel.

one talent of gold.
22 Chron. 35. 25 e Now after all these acts of 37 The king of Egypt also made
about 610. Josias it came to pass, that Pharaoh king Joacim his brother king of Judea

the king of Egypt came to raise war | and Jerusalem.
at Carchamis upon Euphrates: and 38 And he bound Joacim and the
Josias went out against him,

nobles: but Zaraces his brother he

f2 Kings 23.

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Apocrypha. Before apprehended, and brought him out of 1 ungodliness, commanded the kings of Before about 610. Egypt.

the Chaldees to come up against 593. 39 Five and twenty years old was them; g 2 Chron. 36.

8 Joacim when he was made king in 53 Who slew their young men with or, Eliakim. the land of Judea and Jerusalem; and the sword, yea, even within the comabout 606. he did evil before the Lord.

pass of their holy temple, and spared
40 Wherefore against him Nabu- neither young man nor maid, old man
chodonosor the king of Babylon came nor child, among them; for he de-
up, and bound him with a chain of livered all into their hands.
brass, and carried him into Babylon. 54 And they took all the holy ves-

41 Nabuchodonosor also took of sels of the Lord, both great and small,
the holy vessels of the Lord, and with the vessels of the ark of God,
carried them away, and set them in and the king's treasures, and carried
his own temple at Babylon. : them away into Babylon.

42 But those things that are re- 55 As for the house of the Lord, about 588. corded of him, and of his uncleanness they burnt it, and brake down the and impiety, are written in the chro- walls of Jerusalem, and set fire upon nicles of the kings.

her towers:
about 599. 43 And Joacim his son reigned in 56 And as for her glorious things,

his stead: he was made king being they never ceased till they had con-
eighteen years old;

sumed and brought them all to nought:
44 And reigned but three months and the people that were not slain
and ten days in Jerusalem; and did with the sword he carried unto Baby-
evil before the Lord.

45 So after a year Nabuchodonosor 57 Who became servants to him
sent and caused him to be brought and his children, till the Persians
into Babylon with the holy vessels of reigned, to fulfil the h word of the b Jer. 25. 11.
the Lord;

Lord spoken by the mouth of Jere- &
46 And made Zedechias king of my:
Judea and Jerusalem, when he was 58 Until the land had enjoyed her
one and twenty years old; and he sabbaths, the whole time of her deso-
reigned eleven years :

lation shall she || rest, until the full || Or, keep
47 And he did evil also in the term of seventy years.
sight of the Lord, and cared not for
the words that were spoken unto him

CHAP. II. by the prophet Jeremy from the

me 1 Cyrus is moved by God to build the temple, mouth of the Lord.

5 and giveth leave to the Jews to return, 48 And after that king Nabuchodo and contribute to it. 11 He delivereth nosor had made him to swear by the again the vessels which had been taken name of the Lord, he forswore him

thence. 25 Artaxerxes forbiddeth the Jews self, and rebelled; and hardening his

to build any more. neck, and his heart, he transgressed | TN the a first year of Cyrus king of about 536. the laws of the Lord God of Israel. 1 the Persians, that the word of the 22."

49 The governors also of the people Lord might be accomplished, that he Ezra 1. 1, &c.
and of the priests did many things had promised by the mouth of Jere-
against the laws, and passed all the my;
pollutions of all nations, and defiled 2 The Lord raised up the spirit of
the temple of the Lord, which was Cyrus the king of the Persians, and
sanctified in Jerusalem.

he made proclamation through all his
50 Nevertheless the God of their kingdom, and also by writing,
fathers sent by his messenger to call 1 3 Saying, Thus saith Cyrus king
them back, because he spared them of the Persians ; The Lord of Israel,
and his tabernacle also.

the most high Lord, hath made me
51 But they had his messengers king of the whole world,
in derision; and, look, when the 4 And commanded me to build
Lord spake unto them, they made a him an house at Jerusalem in Jewry.
sport of his prophets :

5 If therefore there be any of you
* 52 So far forth, that he, being that are of his people, let the Lord,
wroth with his people for their great even his Lord, be with him, and let


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