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Moreover, necessarily from this account, his whole age must be, not 962 years, as the Greek and the Hebrew make it, but 847; which corresponds also to another theory—that he must die at an earlier age than his father, showing decreased longevity.
2. The disagreement of the Hebrew and Greek in the age of Methuselah is not the result of chance, but of design. But which of them is in fault might seem, at first sight, a difficult question. They agree in the whole age, 969, but differ in respect to the manner of dividing it,--the Greek subtracting 20 years from the age of Methuselah at the birth of Lamech, and adding as many to the remainder of his life ; in oiher words, placing the birth of Lamech 20 years earlier, than it is placed by the Hebrew. And here indeed, strange as it may seem, the Ethiopic version, made from the Greek, agrees with the Hebrew reading; and the Samaritan, which usually differs from the Greek, in this case agrees with it in the number 67 ; the customary subtraction of a century making Methuselah 67 years old at the birth of his son.
This discrepancy cannot be considered as fortuitous, nor can it be referred to the mistakes of copyists; because, in the first place, the twenty years subtracted from the former part of the life, are added to the latter part, or, if you choose, the twenty added to the former part, are taken from the latter part, so as to give the same number of years in the whole life; which could not be supposed to happen by accident. And, secondly, another objection to supposing this discrepancy accidental is found in the fact, that the numbers sixty and eighty have no resemblance to each other, either when expressed in words,* or in letters ;t and, of course, give no occasion of error in transcribing. At least, I do not recollect, in the whole Hebrew Bible, in which I have collected from the versions, and from Josephus, many instances of variety of reading, ever to have found anywhere else, sixty substituted for eighty, or eighty for sixty. But, in order to form any opinion, or even conjecture as to the intention of the corruptor of the true text, we must examine the consequence of each reading.
If Methusaleh lived 167 years before, and 802 after the birth of Lamech, he must have lived 14 or 20 years after the flood;
* www and baw.
to and D.
14,* if we follow the Greek in the other numbers, 20,+ if we follow the Hebrew. But this contradicts the account of Moses, who says that the whole world was overwhelmed with water, and that, except Noah and his sons with their wives, the whole human race perished. Nor, indeed, can it appear probable that Methuselah was preserved in Noah's ark. For it is incredible
-if, besides his wife, and his sons and their wives, Noah had also received his aged grandfather into the ark—that Moses, speaking repeatedly of the same event, and mentioning frequently his sons, his wife and his sons' wives, should fail to mention the grandfather, in whose preservation there would be still more to interest the feelings of the reader ;-whether he be considered as an old man, whom, though his life was almost spent, God would not suffer to perish in the waters, or, whether we regard the filial affection of the grandson, preserving his feeble grandfather from the destruction which overwhelmed the human race.
If, on the other hand, the Hebrew be correct, and Methuselah lived 187 years before, and 782 after the birth of Lamech, his death must have occurred on the very year of the flood. And it will seem probable, although different from the common belief, that this old man, to whom of all men God had granted the longest life, despising the warnings of Noah, and refusing to use the ship which he had built, unworthy to be preserved by his grandson's piety, perished in the waters. The common opinion, that he died in a good old age, a short time before the flood, rests solely on the ridiculous notion, that all the patriarchs were holy men,—as if holiness were hereditary.
From these considerations, there may seem to be some reason to suspect the Hebrew transcribers of having altered the ancient reading. For it may be said, that some one introduced the numbers 187 and 782, who wished to avoid the difficulty involved in the numbers 167 and 802,—that Methuselah would survive the deluge. On the other hand, we can see no motive which could induce either the Seventy, or their transcribers to change the reading; since, by saying that Methuselah lived 802 years after the birth of Lamech, they must involve themselves in the greatest difficulties.
* Add together the 188 years of Lamech, and 600 of Noah, you have 788. This subtracted from 802 leaves 14.
+ 182 years of Lamech's life, and 600 of Noah's give 782. This subtracted from 802 leaves 20.
· And yet there are other circumstances which favor the Hebrew reading, and show that the Greek, whether designedly or not, is manifestly erroneous. In the first place, as I have already remarked, the Greek is here deserted by its Ethiopian translator, who-in a Greek copy obtained from, I know not what source, perhaps from the Thebais, or possibly from Meröe itself *- found and translated into Ethiopic the same reading which we now have in the Hebrew, assigning to Methuselah 187 years before and 782 after the birth of Lamech. Before that time then, the Greek exhibited the same reading as the Hebrew. And the Greek copies of the present day are contradicted by the ancient Greek copies of the interior of Africa.
Again, the Samaritan version, which now agrees with the Greek in the number 67, is unquestionably corrupt; for in the time of Jerome, it computed the years of Methuselah precisely like the Hebrew text. I have already quoted the passage, but it will not be unreasonable to repeat the sentence which bears upon the point before us. Speaking of the old Latin version
reek® of the same mech. Cthus
* Meröe had the Greek Old Testament in the time of our Saviour. For it is said, Acts 8: 27–31, that as Philip travelled, the eunuch of the Ethiopian queen Candacema standing name of the Meröensian queens—was reading Isaiah, as I suppose, in Greek. But this is not the place to discuss my reasons for distinguishing Meröe from that Ethiopia, which gives name to the Ethiopic version—that is, Abyssinia—and for thinking that it was situated between Abyssinia and Egypt, in modern Nubia. I shall examine that question in a foreign geography of the Old Test., which I am preparing. If the Ethiopian had obtained the Greek Old Test. from lower Egypt, and so from Alexandria itself, it would not, in so many cases, agree with the Hebrew. For, when the Ethiopic version of the Bible was made, and long before, the Greek copies generally exhibited the same numbers as at present. But if, long before the Christian era, the Septuagint was carried by the devout from Egypt to Meröe, the Mreöensian copies might have escaped some of the alterations made in Egypt, and might have preserved in part the ancient readings. If this conjecture be correct, the Ethiopic version, though hitherto neglected, will appear to have considerable weight in deciding the merits of the Septuagint. A question which I intend to examine more fully hereafter.
made from the Greek, he takes exception to the account of the life of Methuselah, and says: “It appears then, that in this, as well as in many other places, there is an error in the number; since, in both the Hebrew and the Samaritan, I find it thus written: “And Methuselah lived 187 years, and begat Lamech.'” In the only part, then, of the numbers in which the Samaritan copies of the present day agree with the Greek, they are corrupted, and differ from the Samaritan copies in use before the thirteenth century.
Finally, the Greek reading is evidently condemned by the rest of Moses' text, and is inconsistent with itself. For writing thus, the historian would have contradicted himself, asserting that the whole human race, except Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives, were destroyed by a deluge 788, or 782 years after the birth of Lamech, and still, regardless of this assertion, affirming that Methuselah lived 802 years after the birth of Lamech. What answer would be made to this, either by the Seventy, or by those who first changed the numbers in the Greek, I cannot, with certainty, determine; but I suspect they thought that the whole human race was not destroyed by the flood, but that Methuselah and perhaps others escaped the flood upon some mountains, I know not what or where. Josephus also did not suppose that the rest of the human race were entirely destroyed by the deluge. For he speaks of others, besides the family of Noah, being saved from the flood, and, for a long time, not venturing * to descend from the mountains through fear of another flood. He moreover says that the water rose fifteen cubits above the level of the plains,t instead
*“ The three sons of Noah first came down from the moun-, tains, and dwelt in the plains, and persuaded the others, who feared exceedingly to come to the plains on account of the flood, to follow their example.” Antiq. B. I. ch. IV. § 1
+ '2s étè TńZELS TTEVTEXQidexa tnv yño nepozɛiv. Antiq B. I., ch.' III. § 5. From anxiety to make his story more probable and less offensive to the ears of foreigners, than the account given by Moses would be likely to be, he has exhibited neither the fidelity of a historian, nor even a moderate degree of skill in mathematics ;-in a word, he has written nonsense. For in a flood lasting almost a year, what is it to float over the earth at the height of fifteen cubits? And over what part of the earth? For one country or one territory may be higher or lower than another; and even the most level plains gradually decline SECOND SERIES, VOL. VI. NO. I.
of the mountains, as Moses states. But these assertions are altogether destitute of proof. They not only contradict every other part of the account given by Moses, Gen. 7: 19, 20, but they are at variance with the accounts given by Josephus himself, by the Seventy and the other historians cited by Josephus. These all affirm that the ark rested on the mountains of Armenia, and that the tops of the mountains, after many days, emerged from the waters. If now the ocean actually rose to such a height as to cover the mountains of Armenia, there can have been no country, even on the opposite side of the earth, where the water would not be, by the equilibrium of fluids, of equal height.
The Seventy, then, are evidently in error, having numbers which cannot be reconciled even with their own version of the sacred history. And still I do not deny, that I ain, as yet, foiled by my own argument; namely, that a reading is to be suspected of corruption, if we can discover any motive for corrupting it; and that no reason appears, why the Greek translators should insert 802 instead of 782, while by that very change they involve themselves, as we have seen, in inexplicable difficulty. In other words, it may be said that this reading indeed gives an impossible sense, but that its very absurdity shows its correctness, and proves that it has faithfully, though stupidly, followed its original.
What now if we find reason to suspect that the Greek translator, or correritor, disbelieved the total destruction of the rest of the human family, and the descent of all the nations now on earth, from Noah alone ? Josephus certainly supposed many, besides Noah's family, to have escaped. Was there no dogma of Egyptian philosophy which the corrector wished to spare, but which was overthrown by the Mosaic account of the
towards the sea, and are elevated towards the sources of rivers, and the mountainous parts. Josephus would have given a truer and better account, if he had not endeavored to make the history of the Jews acceptable to foreigners. Yet surely a philosop'ier, like Aristotle, would not have been displeased by an account of the destruction, with the exception of a single family, of the whole human race. For Aristotle, without history or authority of any kind, was led by reason alone to suspect that there had been many conflagrations and inundations, from which but few escaped.