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FROM the date of the war with Culhan, to the inauguration of Saul, are 296 years ; and the chronology of the Annals extremely intricate. The arrangements of Marsham, and Bedford, come nearest to the truth of history; but the result is approximation only, which always implies imperfection.
Is it practicable, by the aid of internal characters of time, to educe historical order out of apparent confufion; and to elucidate what is dark in the chronology?
FROM Othniel to the death of Gideon the years of war are 53 ; and the wars are described as in succession. The years of rest are 200. But it is prefumed, that some parts of the country were involved in the calamities of war, while others enjoyed tranquillity.
To Gideon fucceeded Abimelech, and after him Tolah. They judged Israel 26 years. Under the government of Jair, the successor of Tolah, brake out the war with Ammon, which lasted 18 years, and was terminated by the valour of Jephtha, who succeeded Jair. To Jephtha the king of the children of Ammon sent messengers, demanding the restoration of certain lands, once belonging to the kingdom of the Amorites. Jephtha remonstrated, that Israel had been in the polfefsion of those lands 300 years; that the right, established by prescription, was then unalterable, and the claim for recovery too late. Confiding, that the sword might enforce what negociation could not obtain, the Ammonites hazarded a battle, and incurred a total defeat. E
year of the entrance into Canaan, or the 41st from the Exodus, add 300: The computation thence exclusively, is continued to 342, which seems to have been the first of Jephtha's administration. To this date an objection occurs. The second year from the passage over Jordan was prior to the division of the country, and consequently to the possession of those lands by the Israelites. It is replied, that Moses, on cer. tain conditions, had granted to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, all the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amo. rites, with all the cities of Og, king of Balhan *; and that they had received their inheritance before the general partition t. The possession of 300 years is thus evinced.
But farther; the war of 18 years with Ammon, is by Jud. x. 7. comprehended in the 40 years war with the Philistines, under the joint administration of Eli and Samson, while Jair and Jephtha conducted the war with Ammon. Thus is established a decisive evidence of co-existent wars, and contemporary rulers, with local jurisdiction and this discovery points out a justifiable and necessary expedient for reducing the amplified ac. counts of chronologers to the authentic notations of the facred writers I.
JEPHTH A subdued the Ammonites, in the year from the Exodus 342. This sum deduct from the date of
* Num. xxxii. 32, 33.
+ Josh. xiii, 8. Long before Marsham, Petavius suggested the scheme of coincident wars, and contemporary magistrates, between the times of Abimeleck ai..! Sand, but the hypothesis of neither is framed with chronological precifion.
Saul's inauguration 396, the difference is 54, including 18 years of Eli's government, and 36 of Samuel's : 18 + 36. = 54.
In the Annals, the Philistine war of 40 years terminates 20 years after the death of Eli, with the second battle at Ebenezer. It certainly ended with the first battle there fought, for, prior to the second, Samuel had officiated as fupreme magistrate and high priest 20 years. But the Primate, by connecting the year subsequent to this battle with the confecration of Saul, entirely excludes Samuel from the register of the priests and judges. The sources of this mistake are obvious from the surface of the history. A minute refutation would here require a fuperfluous expence of arguments.
It is not however inapposite to rectify an erroneous number in the Greek Testament, relative to this subjet. “ When he had destroyed the seven nations, he divided their land unto them by lot. And after that he gave unto them judges by the space of 450 years, until Samuel the prophet*.” The land was divided in the 46th year after the Exodus : And 396 — 46 = 350, which difference is the true interval from the partition to the end of Samuel's ministry. Terpanorios, 400, had inadvertently been substituted for, Triaxopl0i, 300, in one copy, and at last pervaded all.
UNTEXTUAL and violent is the Primate's gloss in support of this erroneous notation: “ Much about 450 years after the election of the fathers, and the time of
Isaac's birth, was the land divided.” The election of the fathers, rightly dated from the call of Abraham, was about 520 years before this divifion; and of Isaac's birth no mention'occurs in the context. The order of the apostle's words, and the strain of his argument, require the computation to proceed in the descending reries from the partition, and by no means admit the retrograde order thence to the birth of Isaac.
The history of Ruth is entirely omitted in the course of the Annals; but in the tract on Sacred Chronology*, is referred to the days of Ehud or Shamgar. Its true date is necessary to determine the time of Obed's birth : And every circumstance favours the supposition, that Elimelech retired into the land of Moab, in the time, of the famine, during the seven years war with Midiant. After ten years, Naomi, having heard that the Lord had visited his people, in giving them bread, returned, with Ruth, to Bethlehem.
A. M. 2515
Arrangement of the Chronology from the Exodus to Saul.
Years after the Exodus Mofes dies
40 Joshua dies 40
80 No supreme magistrate War with Cushan 8
108 After Othniel's victory 40 reft over all Canaan 148 War with Eglon 18
166 After Ehud's victory, rest 60 over all Canaan
226 Rest continues, fouth War with Jabin, north 246 War with Midian, fouth 7 Rest after Barak’s victory 253
+ Jud. vi. git.
* P. i. c. 12.
After Gideon's victory
293 3 Abimelech dies 296 Eli judges in S. and W. 23 Tolah dies *
319 The Philiftine war begins i Jair judges in N. and E. 320
4 War with Ammon begins 324 17 Jair dies
341 1 Jephtha subdues Ammon 342 5 dies
347 7 Ibzan dies
354 Elon succeeds
355 Eli dies. The ark taken 4
359 Samuel succeeds
End of the Philistine war 360 4 Elon dies
364 8 Abdon dies
372 Samuel judges all Ifrael
373 defeats the Philistines 7
380 -- anoints Saul, and abdicates the govern- 16 ment
From the first year of Eli's government, coincident with the last of Tolah, both excluded, to the death of Abdon, the intermediate years, common to contemporary judges, are 54, equivalent to the sum retrenched in the Annals, from Joshua's ministry, and to the abridged space between the death of Samson and the accession of Saul.