Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

CHA P. iv.
Third rlge of the World.

1. Date of the Sojourning. T he Annals represent the removal of Abraham,

I first from Ur, then from Syria, and his entrance into Canaan, as the events of his 75th year. But the history requires a longer interval. In the intermediate Nage he built a village, or town, afterward denominated a city, for the accommodation of his little colony. This certainly was not the work of a few months. It seems he called it Haran, after the name of his brother, who had died in the land of his nativity. This circumstance implies the prospect of a permanent residence. By a divine signal, or monition, there he pitched his tent, and from the history it does not appear, that he entertained the thought of a subsequent removal. The primate, however, assumes the postulate, that the patriarch left Chaldea with the explicit foreknowledge of an inheritance in Palelline ;—that his progress was interrupted by the indisposition, and death of bis father at Haran;—and that he set out thence for Canaan, the place of his final delination, whither he arrived, before the expiration of one full year from the time he left his country, his kindred, and his father's house.

EVERY clause of this complex poftulate is controvertible. At the command of God, the patriarch departed from Ur, into a land afterwards to be shewn to him. From these premises an Apostle infers a conclusion, at variance with the archbishop's position: “ By FAITH," not by PREVIOUS KNOWLEDGE, • Abraham, when he was called to go out unto a place, which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and went out, not knowing whither he went.”

ABRAHAM and Lot had gathered substance, and gotten souls, in Haran. Their chief substance was cattle, which had increased by procreation. Their domestics too had multiplied by birth, and by purchase; or, as the Chaldee paraphraft conjectures, by profelytism. All these circumstances justify the supposition, that Abraham considered Syrią as the place of his ultimate destination, and that his abode there was protracted beyond the space of a few months.

Much more probable is the opinion of Petau and Shuckford, who suppose, that Abraham, with his áttendants, was warned to retreat from Ur in his goth year; that he resided in Haran five years, and entered Canaan at the Age of 76. Of this last date we have the utmost certainty. For after Abraham had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and when he was fourscore and fix years old, Hagar bare Ilhmael. This notation serves for a proof, that the sojourning in Canaan and Egypt was adopted as a new term of computation. It is carefully to be noted, that the antici. -pation of one year in this place, and of another at the

C4 ..

time time of Arphaxad's birth, unavoidably antedates the Exodus, the foundation of the temple, and all the intermediate events, by two years.

ro

::: 2. Age of Ishmael' when casi out...

Usher, adopting implicitly the opinion of St. Je. rome, that Ishmael was 18 years old when ejected, with his mother, from Abraham's family, perplexes the chronology and history of the sojourning in Canaan and Egypt. His age, at the birth of Isaac, was 14 years * ...

.

.. ? ' .. 3. Age of ffaiac at the Death of Sarah.

The Primate, misled by the Authority of Jofephus t, again deviates from the Mofaical chronology, by referring the transactions on Moriah † to the 25th of Isaac's age. He was born in the goth of his Mother's life. She died at the age of 127. Both historians (Moses and Josephus) connect the return of Abraham and Isaac from the altar, with the time of Sarah's death. Josephus, in particular, emphatically 'remarks, “ Sarah died after a short interval ;" whence it is reasonably inferred, that Isaac's age was then 37. By a decisive notation of time, in both the historians, this arrangement is authenticated; “ Isaac was 40 years old when he took Rebecca to wife.” Moses adds another circumstance, ftill more determinate; “ Isaac brought her [Rebecca] into his mother Sarah's tent,

•, * Compare Gen. xvi. 16. with ch. xvii. 24. and with ch. xxi. 5. st: Ant. I. 13. 1.

I Gen. xxii.

and

and was comforted after his mother's death.” By re. taining a pious remembrance of an endeared parent, not without a mixture of grief, during the space of three years, Isaac exhibited an amiable specimen of filial regard. ' But the supposition, that such, grief was prolonged 15 full years, violates probability: . “On the day that Ifaac was weaned Abraham made a great feaft; and Sarah saw the son of Hagar mocking. Wherefore she said untó Abraham, cast out this bondo woman and her son.--Abraham sent her and the child away.” By what rule of interpretation is that weaning feast deferred to the fourth of Isaac's life, and the expulsion of Ishmael to his 18th year? From no character of time, expressed in the history, does it seem probable, that these incidents were subsequent to the first year of Ifaac's age.' Josephus very properly observes this connection. « When Sarah had born Ifaac, she was unwilling that Ishmael should be brought up with him, and persuaded Abraham to send him and his mother to a distant country *.

But to reconcile the whole period of fojourning, 430, with the 400, (that part of it mentioned Gen. xv. 13.) Bedford, Kennedy, and others, date the commencement of the less number from the fifth of Isaac, with which they connect the weaning feaft, (exactly 400 years before the Exodus). For want of historical evidence, this poftulate, as at variance with probability, has been rejected.' From the same term, the fifth of Isaac, are computed the 400 years of

[blocks in formation]

affli&tion, and the mocking of Isaac by Ishmael is specified, by Usher, Bedford, Kennedy, &c. as thọ first act of persecution. This gloss is, in all its parts, equivocal, and inapposite. For, the text to which they refer implies, that Abraham's seed should sojourn in a land, not their own, 400 years. It is not affirmed that they should, all that time, be in bondage and affliction. Ifaac, the father of that seed, could not be a stranger, in a land not his own, before his birth, in the 25th year from the entrance of Abraham into Canaan. Hence to the egress the interval is 405. In the prophecy the round number is expressed, and the odd years omitted. It was not necessary that the sum should have been defined with more precision. This solution by St. Austin the Primate mentions without ap-. probation. But it is much less exceptionable than the hypothesis, that Sarah, from the age of ninety, suckled Ilaac five years.

4. Genealogies from Jacob. In this, as in the subsequent ages, the Annals exemplify many instances of their author's negligence, want of skill, and fallacious conclusions, in the article of gencalogy. Those beyond the limits of this period are reserved for their proper dates.

From the birth of Jacob, progressively, the order of succession is not specified by the years of the fathers at the birth of their sons; and henceforth the greatest perplexities, in adjusing history to the course of nature,

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PoprzedniaDalej »