Page images

after his father Adam was 130 years old—the Seventy substitute 230,—was not the firstborn, but certainly younger than Cain and Abel, and a number of daughters. So that there was nothing even to make room for the mistake. Neither could any one, who was not deeply tinged in the Jewish fables respecting the sacred primogenital stock, suppose that Noah had no children till his five hundredth year.

Not more credible is the other Samaritan hypothesis ; namely, that the son, in every instance, from Cainan down to Terah, died at an earlier age than his father ; with the exception only of Enoch and Noah. These are excepted by the Samaritan, as, on account of unusual sanctity, the one was rewarded by early intercourse with God, the other, by unusual longevity. According to the Samaritan, the vital power of the race decreasing, and the longevity of the son being, in every case, less than that of his father, Cainan lived 910 years, Mahalaleel 895, Jared 847, Methuselah 720, Lamech 653, Shem 600, Arphaxad 450, Salah 433, Eber 404, Peleg 239, Reu 239, Serug 230, Nahor 148, and Terah 145.

Now, though I would readily admit, that, after the deluge the term of human life gradually diminished from the time of Shem, still I should not think it a necessary consequence, that the son must invariably die younger than his father had died. For now, when the vital energy of our race has long been stationary, a son is often born of stronger constitution, and more vital power than his father; and while some, in the regular course of nature, wear out and die by old age, far more die of disease, which, without regard to age, may snatch away the father in youth, the son at a more advanced age, and leave the grandson to extreme old age. In like manner also, from Cainan to Terah, though, in the whole race, there was a constant diminution of longevity, still in individuals, that diminution does not seem to have been so manifest and invariable, nor does the duration of life seem to have been governed by any precise law. For who can suppose, that all these, for fourteen generations, died without disease, of old age alone ? and that, compared with his contemporaries, no father was naturally more feeble, or son more vigorous, excepting only two men distinguished for their piety? The approach of death is not governed by a law so constant and regular; some are the victims of premature disease; nor are men of the same generation naturally endowed with equal physical firmness. For, though the more common limit of old age, to those who are not cut off by disease or any external violence, is about 70 or 80 years, yet some, who are naturally more feeble, earlier decay, and fall into the grave, while others live a hundred, or a hundred and twenty years, or even more. Now to exclude all such irregularity from the Mosaic chronology is certainly to form a system foreign to nature. Suppose some one to forge this table of the kings of England : Henry VII. lived 63 years; Henry VIII. 63; Edward VI., 63; Mary, 63; Elizabeth, 63 ; James I., 63; Charles I. was deposed and executed by the people; Charles II. lived 63; James II., 63; William, 63; Anne, 63; George I., 63; George II., 63; George III., 63. No individual, not even the most ignorant of history, nor one who had never heard of these kings, would be stupid enough to believe this; but, merey from the equality of the ages, would suspect falsehood. But the Samaritan text predicates of the patriarchs a regularity as incredible, by making their ages continually decrease.

It is really surprising that this palpable falsehood should have found any supporters. For, if the term of life is so short- ! ened that no son attains the age of his father, unless it is decreed by God as a special reward of distinguished sanctity, instead of the present promiscuous allotment of long life and early death, all must die the first year.

§ 6. The Greek Translator of the Pentateuch. I have already hinted my suspicion, that those, who give us a reading which is too systematic, did not copy or translate what they found in the more ancient codices, but as they supposed-corrected, or rather interpolated and corrupted the sacred text to meet their own views.

This charge will be the more difficult of evasion, if we find them guilty in other instances. In the continuation of the genealogy after the flood, from Shem to Abraham, we shall find the Greek translator guilty of manifest error; while, at the same time, the Greek copies are so much at variance among themselves, as to make it evident that most of them wrote, not what they found written, but what they thought most suitable, or what they wished had been written by Moses. In other respects, I have been accustomed to express a high opinion of the Greek translator of the Pentateuch; nor can I name, from all the rest, his equal in talent and learning. He was unequalled in his thorough knowledge of Hebrew; perSECOND SERIES, VOL. VI. NO. I.


sonally acquainted with the affairs of Egypt, not, indeed, aiming at the elegance of the Greek language, yet so well acquainted with it as to command whenever he wishes, the neatest style; and, when uninfluenced by other motives, faithfully translating word for word. But, having in his mind the philosophy and history of Egypt, and being anxious to render his author agreeable, not only to the Jews, but to foreigners, he sometimes puts forced meanings upon words; and, with still greater audacity, absolutely corrupts the reading. For, lest the Egyptian philosophers should draw from the sacred writings something in support of their errors,* he sometimes substitutes his own sentiments for those of Moses; sometimes changes the text, and makes it conform to Egyptian history; and finally, he alters whatever might seem likely to offend foreigners by its improbability. There is a marked example of this kind of alteration in the journal of the deluge. Now he, who has once or twice corrected, instead of translating, the original text, may well be suspected, in other instances also, where he differs from the Hebrew and Samaritan reading, of having acted the part of a corrector rather than that of a translator.

§ 7. Comparison of Versions. Perhaps the question may seem to have been sufficiently settled by the preceding considerations, without regard to the evidence drawn from different versions, and from ancient commentators. We will, however, hear their testimony; and in judging of its value, we must recollect, that, as in court, those are not considered independent witnesses, of whom one received his account from the other, so the testimony of those, who read and interpreted a version alone, cannot have weight in support of the version, on a question respecting the ancient reading of the Hebrew text.

First, then, we will consider those whose testimony favors the Samaritan text. But, indeed, I know of no such, except the Samaritan interpreter himself. I suspect, however, that the Sam. Arabic version, which has been preserved in the Bodleian library, of which Durell published a description with a

* See my Dissertation “De indiciis Gnosticæ philosophiæ tempore Septuaginta Interpretum.” It is the thirteenth of Vol. II. of the Syntagma.

specimen, is on the same side. But my conjecture as to what the witness would say, if he were questioned, is of no value. He must speak for himself, and, indeed, I should like to be informed by Durell, or Kennicott, in respect to the chronology of this version.

For the reading of the Seventy, I can give nothing worthy to be called an authority. For, though the ancient Latin and Coptic versions, and not a few of the Greek Fathers agree with the Seventy, still, these are not independent supporters, but followers and copyists. The old Latin and Coptic versions were translated from the Greek; and the Fathers, who are quoted by the defenders of the Greek chronology, read the Greek and not the Hebrew. It is a fact, moreover, though it scarcely seems possible, that the readings of the Greek version have, not only no evidence in their favor, but even positive evidence against them. For the Ethiopian translator, though he, in general, rigidly follows the Greek, does not in all these cases exhibit the same numbers; but respecting half of the ages in this genealogy, agrees with the Hebrew readings. But of this-no authority for the Greek readings having as yet been named-and also respecting Josephus, whom Jackson very triumphantly adduces as a witness for the Seventy, I shall speak bereafter.

We come now to the evidence of the correctness of the Hebrew text, as it has been delivered to us by the Masorites, and published in the Hebrew character. But, to avoid even the appearance of anxiety to maintain the opinion I have espoused, I leave out of the question four versions which agree with the Hebrew; these are the Chaldee of Jerusalem, and that of Pseudo-Jonathan, and the two Arabic versions,—the one, published in the Polyglott, the other, by Erpenius. I admit that these are more recent, and were made when the Masorites had, perhaps, already determined the reading of the Hebrew text; so that they might be expected to agree with the Masoretic edition. The following authorities, however, are, in my opinion, sufficient both in number and weight. In the first rank I put Onkelos; then the Syriac; and then Jerome, who, in the fourth or fifth century, found in the Hebrew books the same readings that we now have, and from them corrected the Vulgate.* Respecting Aquila, Symmachus and Theodo

* Sciendum, quod usque ad diluvium, ubi in nostris codicibus

tion, Jerome has given us no direct information; but, from his silence in regard to them, we may infer that they agreed with the Hebrew text. Indeed, as to Symmachus, the fact is certain, as appears from a passage of Eusebius Emisenus, which Montfaucon has extracted, on the Hexapla, Genesis 5:5.

If these authorities—the Chaldee, the Syriac, Symmachus and Jerome—are not enough to establish the Hebrew reading, I will add one more; which, incredible as it may seem, has never before been mentioned by any writer on this subject. In fact, this alone is enough to settle the whole controversy, at least between the Samaritan and Hebrew; so that I have some doubt whether the testimony of this witness will not cause half of my dissertation to seem superfluous. If we believe Jerome, the Samaritan codices, as late as the fourth century, had the same numbers as the present Hebrew text; in other words, the Samaritan codices of the fourth century support the Hebrew text against the present form of the Samaritan. Take and examine for yourselves the words of Jerome, showing the incorrectness of the Greek reading, in his Questions on Genesis, 5: 25.*

Of eight numbers, then, in which the Samaritan version, at the present day, differs from the Hebrew, this single extract has four, and those too, of the first importance; and it shows that, in the fourth century, the Samaritan had the same reading which we now have in the common Masoretic Hebrew Bible. The fifth number, that is, the whole age of Lamech, could not be the same in those Samaritan codices of Jerome, that it is in the later Samaritan; nor was it necessary to assign to Jared

ducentorum et quod excurrit annorum genuisse quis dicitur, in Hebræo habeat centum annos, et reliquos qui sequuntur. Again, Quia in ducentis erraverat (the ancient Latin translator) consequenter bic posuit septingentos, cum in Hebraeo hic habeatur, octingentos et supra centum.

Quæst. in Gen. 5: 3, 4. * Siquidem et in Hebræis et Samaritanorum libris ita scriptum reperiet, vixit Mathụsala centum octoginta septem annis, et genuit Lamech. Et vixit Mathusala post quam genuit Lamech, septingentos octoginta duos annos, et genuit filios et filias. Et fuerunt omnes dies Methusalæ anni nongenti sexaginta novem, et mortuus est. Et vixit Lamech centum octoginta duobus annis, et genuit Noe.

« PreviousContinue »