« PreviousContinue »
DURING FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. *
the land of Canaan, shall be shown hereafter, when out, and forced them to learn all sorts of mechanical I have explained on what account it was that they arts, and to accustom themselves to hard labour:
and four hundred years did they spend under these
afflictions, for they strove one against another which CHAP. IX.
get the mastery; the Egyptians desiring to OP THE AFFLICTIONS THAT BEFELL THE HEBREWS IN EGYPT, destroy the Israelites by these labours, and the
Israelites desiring to hold out to the end under Now it happened that the Egyptians grew delicate them. and indolent, and gave themselves up to pleasure, While the affairs of the Hebrews were in this and in particular to the love of gain. They also condition, there was this occasion offered itself to became very ill affected towards the Hebrews, as the Egyptians, which made them more solicitous for touched with envy at their prosperity ; for when the extinction of our nation. One of these sacred they saw how the nation of the Israelites flourished, scribes,|| who are very sagacious in foretelling future and were become eminent already in plenty of events truly, told the king, that about this time a wealth, which they had acquired by their virtue and child would be born to the Israelites; who, if he natural love of labour, they thought their increase were reared, would bring the Egyptian dominion was to their own detriment; and having in length low, and would raise the Israelites; that he would of time forgotten the benefits they had received excel all men in virtue, and obtain a glory that would from Joseph, particularly the crown being now come be remembered through all ages ; which thing was into another family,f they became very abusive to so feared by the king, that, according to this man's the Israelites, and contrived many ways of afflicting opinion, he commanded that every male child, which them, for they enjoined them to cut a great number was born to the Israelites, should be cast into the of channels for the river, and to build wallst for river, and destroyed ; that besides this, the Egyptheir cities and ramparts, that they might restrain tian midwives should watch the labours of the the river, and hinder its waters from stagnating, Hebrew women, and observe what was born ; for upon its running over its own banks; they set them those were the women who were enjoined to do the also to build pyramids, and by all this wore them office of midwives to them, and by reason of their
buried as his father was. 1st, Because his brethren, after his wheat, because they suppose them to have been the granaries decease, might not have interest enough at court to provide of the ancient Egyptian kings. But a late writer, versed in the themselves with such things as were necessary to set off the Coptic tongue, has given us another etymology from that lanpomp and solemnity of a funeral befitting so great a personage. guage, wherein Pouro signifies a king, and Misi, a race, or 2dly, Because he might foresee, that the Egyptians, in all prob- generation ; and the reason why the pyramids had this name ability, as long as their veneration for his memory was warm, given them, was, as he tells us, because they were erected to would hardly have suffered his remains to have been carried into preserve the memory of the princes (who were their founders) another country. 3dly, Because the continuance of his remains and their families. Wilkins's Dissert. de ling. Copt. p. 108. among them might be a means to preserve the remembrance of Of this building of the pyramids of Egypt by the Israelites, the services he had done them, and thereby an inducement to see Perizonius Orig. Egyptiac. c. 21. It is not impossible they them to treat the relations he had left behind him with more might build one or more of the small ones, but the large ones kindness. 4thly, And chiefly, because the presence of his body seem much later. See my Chronological Table, and Authent. with the Israelites might be a pledge to assure them, and a Rec. Part II. page 885, 886, 887. Only if they be all built of means to strengthen and confirm their faith and hope in God's stone, this does not so well agree with the Israelites' labours, promises to their progenitors, that he would infallibly put their which are said to have been in brick, and not in stone, as Mr. posterity in possession of the land of Canaan : and accordingly, Sandys observes in his Travels, page 127, 128. when Moses delivered them out of Egypt, he carried Joseph's || Dr. Bernard informs us here, that instead of this single body along with him, (Exod. xiii. 19,) and committed it to the priest or prophet of the Egyptians, without a name in Josephus, care of the tribe of Ephraim, who buried it near Shechem, (Josh. the Targum of Jonathan names the two famous antagonists of xxiv. 32,) in the field which Jacob, a little before his death, Moses, Jannes and Jambres. Nor is it at all unlikely, that it gave to Joseph, as his peculiar property. Pereius, and Patrick's might be one of these who foreboded so much misery to the Commentary; Pool's Annotations, and Calmet's Dictionary Egyptians, and so much happiness to the Israelites, from the under the word. B.
rearing of Moses. * As to the affliction of Abraham's posterity for 400 years, Josephus is clear that these midwives were Egyptians, and see I. 10; and as to what cities they built in Egypt under Pha- not Israelites, as in our other copies, which is very probable, it raoh Sesostris, and of Pharaoh Sesostris's drowning in the Red being not easily to be supposed that Pharaoh could trust the Sea, see Essay on the Old Test. Append. page 139—162. Israelite midwives to execute so barbarous a command against + Exodus, i. 8.
their own nation. Consult, therefore, and correct hence our # It is a common opinion, that the word pyramid is derived ordinary copies, Exod. i. 15–22; and, indeed, Josephus seems from the Greek Pyr or Pur, Fire ; and that these structures to have had much completer copies of the Pentateuch, or other were so called from their shape, which ascended from a broad authentic records now lost, about the birth and actions of Moses, basis, and ended in a point, like a flame of fire. Others, whose than either our Hebrew, Samaritan, or Greek Bibles afford us, opinion Vossius seems to approve, say that the name comes which enabled him to speak so largely and particularly about from the word Pyros, which, in the same language, signifies him.
relation to the king would not transgress his com- || the miseries they at that time endured, and to render mands.* He enjoined, also, that if any parents abortive their enemies' hope of the destruction of should disobey him, and venture to save their male their nation. Accordingly God had mercy on liim, children alive, they and their families should be and was moved by his supplication ; he stood by destroyed. This was a severe affliction, indeed, to him in his sleep, and exhorted bim not to despair of those that suffered it, not only as they were deprived his future favours. He said farther, that he did not of their sons, and while they were the parents them- forget their piety towards him, and would always selves they were obliged to be subservient to the reward them for it; as he had formerly granted his destruction of their own children, but as it was to favour to their forefathers, and made them increase be supposed to tend to the extirpation of their from a few to so great a multitude. He reminded nation ; while upon the destruction of their children, him, that when Abraham was come alone out of and their own gradual dissolution, the calamity Mesopotamia into Canaan, he had been made happy, would become very hard and inconsolable. Such not only in other respects, but that when his wife was the ill state they were in ; but no one can over- was at first barren, she was afterward by him throw the purposes of God, though he contrive ten enabled to conceive seed, and bare hím sons; that thousand subtle devices for that end; for this child, he left to Ishmael, and to his posterity, the country
1 whom the sacred scribe foretold, was brought up, of Arabia: as also to his sons by Ketura, Throgloand concealed from the observers appointed by the dytis: and to Isaac, Canaan. “By my assistance,” king; and he that foretold him did not mistake in said he, “ he did great exploits in war, which, unless the consequences of his preservation, which were you be yourselves impious, you must still remember. brought to pass under a singular manner :
As for Jacob, he became well known to strangers A man, whose name was Amram, one of the also, by the greatness of that prosperity in which nobler sort of the Hebrews, was afraid of his whole he lived and left to his sons, who came into Egypt nation lest it should fail, by the want of young men with no more than seventy souls, while you are to be brought up hereafter, and was very uneasy at now become above six hundred thousand. Know, it, his wife being then with child, and he knew not therefore, that I shall provide for you all in common what to do; hereupon he betook himself to prayer what is for your good, and particularly for thyself to God, and entreated him to have compassion on what shall make thee famous; for that child, out of those men who had noways transgressed the laws dread of whose nativity the Egyptians have doomed of his worship, and to afford them deliverance from the Israelite children to destruction, shall be this
* It is generally supposed that the midwives upon this oc- had charged the midwives to kill the male children that were casion told a lie; but there is no reason for such a supposition, born of the Hebrew women; the midwives feared God, omitted though possibly they might conceal some part of the truth, to do what the king had commanded them, pretending in excuse which is not unlawful, but highly commendable, when it is to for their omission, that the Hebrew women were generally depreserve the innocent; for many of the Hebrew women might livered before they could get to them. Pharaoh hereupon be such as are here described, though not every one of them. resolving to prevent their increase, gave charge to his people to The answer of the midwives therefore is so far from being a have all the male children of the Hebrews thrown into the sneaking lie to save their lives, that it is a bold confession of river; but his command could not be strictly executed, whilst their faith and piety, to the hazard of them, viz. that they saw the Israelites lived up and down the fields in tents, which was so plain an evidence of the wonderful hand of God, in that their ancient and customary way of living ; for they would extraordinary vigour in the travail of the women, that do what shift here and there, and lodge the women in childbed out of Pharaoh would, they durst not, would not, strive against it, the way, to save their children. Pharaoh therefore built them because they would not strive against God. Lightfoot's Ser- houses, and obliged them to a more settled habitation, that the mons on 2 Sam. xix. 29. The making the midwives houses, is people whom he had set over them, might know where to find by most interpreters ascribed to God, and the thing is supposed every family, and to take an account of all the children that to have been done in a metaphorical sense, i. e. God gave them should be born. So that this was a very cunning contrivance of a numerous offspring or family, and a very lasting succession or Pharaoh, in order to have his charge more strictly and effectu. posterity. For there are five things, say they, which go to com- ally executed than it could otherwise have been done; and was plete the greatness or eminence of a family, as such ; its large- a particular too remarkable not to be inserted in Moses's account ness, its wealth, its honours, its power, and its duration. And of this affair. The only seeming difficulty is, to reconcile the therefore since the midwives hazarded their own lives to save words to the text in what has been here advanced; but this will those of the Hebrew children, and to preserve the Israelites a be none at all, if the words be rightly translated, and the verses numerous progeny and posterity, the God of Israel, in return, rightly distinguished in this manner. Exod. i. 20. And God not only made their own lives long and prosperous, but gave dwelt with the midwives, and the people multiplied, and waxed them very numerous families, and an enduring posterity, in very mighty, and this happened, (or was so, or came to pass,) whom they might be said to live after death, even from genera- because the midwives feared God, ver. 21, 22. And Pharaoh tion to generation. But all this is a very forced construction, built them (i. e. Israelites) houses, and charged all his people, and what the original words will by no means bear. We should saying, Every son that is born, ye shall cast into the rivers, and therefore rather think, these houses were built, not for the mid- every daughter ye shall save alive. Shuckford's Connection, wives, but for the Israelites, and that it was not God, but Pha- vol. i. 1.7. B. raoh, who built them. The case seems to be this :-Pharaoh
child of thine, and shall be concealed from those in a surprising manner, preserved, and obtain a who watch to destroy him, and when he is brought prosperous condition, almost from the very midst up, in a surprising way he shall deliver the Hebrew of their calamities: those I mean whose dangers nation from the distress they are under from the arise by the appointment of God; and indeed Egyptians. His memory shall be famous while the such a Providence was exercised in the case of world lasts; and this not only among the Hebrews, this child as showed the power of God. but foreigners also; all which shall be the effect of Thermuthis, the king's daughter, was now dimy favour to thee, and to thy posterity. He shall verting herself by the banks of the river; and seealso have such a brother, that he shall himself ob- ing a cradle borne along by the current, she sent tain my priesthood. and his posterity shall have it some that could swim, and bid them to bring the after him to the end of the world."
cradle to her. When those that were sent on When the Vision had informed him of these this errand came to her with the cradle, and she things, Amram awaked, and told it to Jochebed, saw the little child, she was greatly in love with his wife: and now the fear increased upon them, it, on account of its largeness and beauty, for God on account of the prediction in Amram's dream, had taken such great care in the formation of for they were under concern, not only for the child, Moses, that he caused him to be thought worthy but on account of the great happiness that was to of bringing up and providing for by all those that come to him also. However,* the mother's labour had taken the most fatal resolutions, on account was such as afforded a confirmation to what was of their dread of his nativity, for the destruction foretold by God; for it was not known to those of the rest of the Hebrew nation. Thermuthis who watched her by the easiness of her pains, bid them bring her a woman that might suckle and because the throes of her delivery did not fall the child, yet would not the child admit of her upon her with violence; and now they nourished breast, but turned away from it, and did the like the child at home privately for three months. But to many other women. Now Miriam was by after that time, Amram fearing he should be dis- when this happened; not to appear to be there covered, and by falling under the king's displea- on purpose, but only as staying to see the child; sure, both he and his child should perish, and so and she said, “ It is in vain that thou, O queen, he should make the promise of God of none effect, callest for these women for the nourishment of he determined rather to trust the safety and care the child, who are by noway of kin to it: but if of the child to God, than to depend on his own thou wilt order one of the Hebrew women to be concealment of him, which he looked upon as a brought, perhaps it may admit the breast of one thing uncertain, and whereby both the child, so pri- of his own nation. Now, since she seemed to vately to be nourished, and himself, should be in speak well, Thermuthis bid her procure such a imminent danger ; but he believed that God would one; so when she had such authority given her, some way for certain procure the safety of the she came back, and brought the mother, who was child, in order to secure the truth of his own predic- known to nobody there; and now the child gladly tions. When they had thus determined, they made admitted the breast, and seemed to adhere closely an ark of bulrushes, after the manner of a cradle, to it; and so it was that at the queen's desire the and of a bigness sufficient for an infant to be laid nursing of the child was entirely intrusted to the in, without being too much straitened. They then mother. daubed it over with slime, which would naturally Hereupon it was that Thermuthis imposed this keep out the water from entering between the bul- name, Mouses, upon him, from what had happened rushes, and put the infant into it, and setting it when he was put into the river, for the Egyptians afloat upon the river, they left its preservation to call water by the name of Mo, and such as are God; so the river received the child, and carried saved out of it by the name of Uses; so, by puthim along; but Miriam, the child's sister, passed ting these two words together, they imposed this along upon the bank over against him, as her mo- name upon him; and he was, by the confession of ther had bid her, to see whither the ark would be all, according to God's prediction, as well for his carried: where God demonstrated that human greatness of mind, as for his contempt of diffiwisdom was nothing, but that the Supreme Being culties, the best of all the Hebrews. - Abraham is able to do whatsoever he pleases; that those, was his ancestor of the seventh generation, for who, in order to their own security, condemn Moses was the son of Amram, who was the son others to destruction, and use great endeavours of Caath: whose father, Levi, was the son of about it, fail of their purpose; but that others are, Jacob, who was the son of Isaac, who was the
son of Abraham. Now Moses's understanding
became far superior to his age, and when he was
* An. 1616.