« AnteriorContinua »
} The Jewish Hiftory, from Abraham to Moses.
E have had occafion already to hint, that this celebrated patriarch was the father and founder of the Jewish nation; though they were never, as we can find, called by his name; but either by that of Ifraelites or Jews, or by the more common one of Hebrews (A). But, as he was defigned by the divine providence to fill up a more noble character, and to be, in a more eminent and exalted manner, the father of the faithful; and, as fuch, was to give fo many fignal tokens of his faith and intire refignation to the divine call, which brought him out of his native home into a ftrange land, where he was to continue only a fojourner; it was, doubtlefs, on that account chiefly, The defign that the facred historian hath thought fit to give us a more of the book
a See vol. i. p. 253, & feqq. ii. p. 380, & feqq.
(A) We have ventured here to call them Jews, in compliance with custom, tho' that name was not given them till after the Babylonifh captivity, when the tribe of Judah became the most confiderable, if not almost the whole of what was left of Ifrael (1). The first name that was given to Abraham and his children, was that of Hebrews, which fome derive from Heber, the fifth in def cent from Noah (2). But it is hardly probable, that Abraham would call himself by his name, ratherthan by that of any of his ten predeceffors, and we rather think, that it was given him by the Canaanites, because he came thither from the other fide of the Euphrates; the word ay Heber fig
(1) See vol. ii. p. 382, & notes. (3) Gen. xiv. 13.
nifying in the original, the
(2) Gen. x. 24. D. Kimchi, R 4
fuccinct account of his life, travels, and various trials, as well as of the wonderful means,by which the divine wisdom and goodness led him through them to the promised blesfing, which was to crown them all. Neither was, in all probability, this surprising history thus circumftantiatedly penned without a view of exciting the too unbelieving Ifraelites, then in the fame wandering condition, but defigned for a more happy lot, to rely on the fame infallible guide, which was fpeediby to conduct them to it, if their murmurings and difobedience did not put fome obftruction to their promised happiness.
Year of ABRAHAM the son of Terah, and the tenth in a lineal the flood defcent from the fon and fucceffor of Noah b, was born in Ur of the Chaldees, and about feventy-four years of Bef. Chr. age when his father and he came from thence into Ha1921. rand, where they had not been feated long, before Terah died in the two hundredth and fifth year of his age (B). His
b Gen. x. 25, & feqq. See vol. i. p. 299, & feqq.
(B) There feems to be an infurmountable difficulty in this account of Terab's age, of which we have taken notice in a former volume (3), and which chronologers have variously endeavoured to remove. Willet and Tremellius think, that though Terah was but feventy years old when he be gan to have children, yet he was near an hundred and thirty when he begat Abraham, and that those that were born before him, are purposedly omitted by Mofes, that Abrabam might have the honour of primogeniture for the excellency of his faith (4). Others with Calmet, choofe rather to give him Adar, or Azar, fer his father, and Terab for his
grandfather, according to the Arabian history of that patriarch; and to fill up the chaẩm, fuppofe that Adar begot Abraham in the fixtieth year of his age (5); but befides the small reliance we can have on that hiftory, the thing feems quite oppofite to the text. Others more reasonably fuppofe, with Sir Norton Knatchbull (6), that there is an error crept into the original; and that Terah was either an hundred and thirty years old when he begat Abraham, or that if he was then but feventy years old, he died in the hundredth and fifty-fifth, and not in the two hundredth and fifth year of his age: for the text fays, that Abraham was feventy-five years old when he
(4) Idem in loc. Villet. cb. ii. quæft. 19.
(3) Vol. i. p. 1256, & feqq. (5) Calm. bift. Vid. Herbelot, biblict, orient. p. 12, 13. (6) Vid. effay en a tem verf.
funeral was fcarce over when Abraham was commanded Abraby GoD to depart thence, into a land which he should fhew ham's call. to him; and GoD affured him, that he would bless, protect, and multiply him in an extraordinary manner; and that in his feed all the nations of the earth fhould be bleffed he readily obeyed, being doubtless well acquainted with the call, and taking Sarah his wife, and Lot his brother's fon, with all his fervants and cattle, went into the land of Cannan, and pitchled his tents near the city of Sichem (C) then inhabited by the Canaanites, where he built an altar unto the LORD. Here GOD was pleased to appear again unto him, to confirm all his former promifes, and to affure him, that he would one day give that land to his pofterity. Soon after, a great famine, Year of which happened in those parts, forced him to remove into the flood Egypt, which was then the only place where he might 428. hope to find provifion for his numerous family, and great Bef. Chr. multitude of cattle. However, the fear he was in upon 1920. the account of Sarah his wife, who, tho' fhe was past the fixty-fifth year of her age, retained yet beauty enough to Egypt. man's life who fhould pafs for made him refolve, after fome hesitation, that fhe fhould pafs for his fifter, in every place they came to. And from
e Gen. xii. 2, & feqq.
left Haran, and that his father died but a little while before. But we choose to refer our reader for a more fatisfactory folution to the learned Capzovius, efpecially with the notes of Marcus Mofes in our Englife tongue.
It may not be improper to take notice here, that though Haran, the land fo called, and Haran, the fon of Terah, be fpelt with the fame letters in ours, and other verfions, from which fome have concluded, that the latter gave his name to the country; yet in the original they are differently writ; viz. the former with a Пcheth, equivalent to the
Greek x, and might be more
(C) If we may credit Ni-
47) Ap. Jofeph ant, I. i. c. 8. Euseb. præp. lix. c. 16.
this descent into Egypt the generality of chronologers compute the space of four hundred and thirty years mentioned by St. Paul, agreeably to what Mofes fays in another place i, that Ifrael dwelt in Egypt four hundred and thirty years; that is, as the LXX interpret it, that from the first coming of Abraham thither to the exodus fhould be four hundred and thirty years. We fhall have occafion Year of to resume this point in its proper place. Abraham had not been long in Egypt before Sarah charmed the Egyptians, Bef. Chr. and in the end captivated Pharaoh himfelf; who, for her 1919. fake, fhewed extraordinary favours to her pretended brother (E). In a fhort time Abraham faw himself poffeffed of vaft numbers of fheep, oxen, camels, affes, men and maidfervants, befides gold, filver, and other precious things, which Pharoah heaped upon him; though all too mean to recompenfe him for the lofs of his wife: at length GOD was pleased to interpofe on his behalf, and to deliver Sarah from the imminent danger the was in. Pharaoh and his house were infefted with fuch plagues, as plainly convinced them on whose account they fuffered. The king then fent for Abraham, and having fharply rebuked him for deceiving him in a matter of fuch confequence, delivered up his wife to him as free from any stain of difloyalty as he had received her; and gave orders, that they might fafely depart his dominions with all the wealth they had.
ABRAHAM made no stay in Egypt after this; the faReturns to mine being ceafed in the place which he had left, he Bethel. returned thither by the fame way; and, on the altar he had built before, offered a facrifice of thanks for his happy escape, and safe return". In the mean time, the herds of
m Gen. xii, pass,
h Galat. iii. 17. i Exod. xii. 40.
Lot, as well as his own, being grown too numerous for the land they lived in, fuch contentions arose between their fhepherds, that Abraham refolved in a friendly man- Separates t ner to feparate from Lot; and, having given him his from Lot. choice of the whole country that lay before him, Lot chose the fertile plains of Sodom and Gomorrah, which he faw watered by the river fordan, and parted from his uncle", Abraham was no fooner separated from him, but Gop, who seems to have been the fole conductor of this scene, that the promised bleffings might fall on him alone, bid him caft his eye round the horizon, and promised to give all that land he beheld, to him and his pofterity. Abraham foon after left Bethel, and went to dwell in the land of Moreh, which is in Hebron, where he built an altar unto God, and foon after contracted a friendship with three of the greateft men of the place; viz. Mamre, 7 Aner, and Efhcol; the firft of whom communicated his name to all the country +. This alliance proved very ferviceable to Abraham in procefs of time, and was the cause of his living peaceably near ten years among them: but a misfortune which befel Lot about this time, who was taken captive by Chedorlaomer and his allies, forced Lot taken him to mufter up all his forces and courage to refcue prifoner;
P him out of their hands. This difafter no fooner reached Year of
Abraham's ears than he communicated the news of it to flood 436.
far as Hoba, on the left of Damafcus, and having re-andrescued
AFTER this Abraham removed to Mamre, or Hebron, Removeș where GOD was pleased to appear to him a fifth time in to Hebron.
n Ibid. ver. 7, & feqq. Vid, fup. vol. ii.
P. 120. + See • Genef. c. xiv. paff,
P Genef. c. xiv. ver. 18.