Page images
PDF
EPUB

OF THE BURNING BUSH AND THE ROD OF MOSES.

rious expedition at the head of his army, as out of | not insensible of benefits, but where they were both fear at being brought low by him ; and being insti- able and willing to return the kindness, and even to gated by the sacred scribes, he was ready to under- exceed the measure of his generosity: so he made take to kill Moses; but when he had learned before him his son, and gave him one of his daughters in hand what plots there were against him, he went marriage, and appointed him to be the guardian and away privately; and because the public roads were superintendent over his cattle; for of old all the watched, he took his flight through the deserts, and wealth of the barbarians was in their cattle. where his enemies could not suspect he would travel; and though destitute of food, he went on, and de

CHAP. XII. spised that difficulty courageously; and when he came to the city of Midian, which lay, upon the Red sea, and was so denominated from one of Abraham's

WHEN Moses had obtained this favour of Jethro* sons by Keturah, he sat upon a certain well, and (for that was one of the names of Raguel,) he rested himself there after his laborious journey, and stayed there, and fed his flocks ;t but some time the affliction he had been in. It was not far from afterward, taking his station at the mountain the city, and the time of the day was noon, where called Sinai, he drove his flocks thither to feed he had an occasion offered him, by the custom of the them. Now this is the highest of all the mouncountry, of doing what recommended his virtue, and tains thereabouts, and the best for pasturage, the afforded him an opportunity of bettering his cir- herbage being good: and it had not been before cumstances.

fed upon, because of the opinion men had that For that country having but little water, the shep- God dwelt there, the shepherds not daring to asherds used to seize on the wells before others came, cend up to it: and here it was that a wonderful lest their flocks should want water, and lest it should prodigy appeared to Moses: for a fireț fed upon be spent by others before they came. There were a thorn bush; yet did the green leaves and flowers now come, therefore, to this well, seven virgin sis- remain untouched, and the fire did not consume ters, the daughters of Raguel, a priest, and one the fruit branches, although the flame was great thought worthy by the people of the country of great and fierce. Moses was affrighted at this strange honour: these virgins, who took care of their fa- sight; but he was still more astonished when the ther's flock, which sort of work it was customary fire uttered a voice, and called to him by name, and very familiar for women to do in the country and spake words to him; by which it signified of the Troglodytes, came first of all, and drew water how bold he had been in venturing to come into out of the well in a quantity sufficient for their flocks a place whither no man had ever come before, beinto troughs, which were made for the reception of cause the place was divine; and advised him to that water: but the shepherds came upon the maid- remove a great way from the flame, and to be ens, and drove them away, that they might have the contented with what he had seen; for, though he command of the waters themselves. Moses thought were himself a good man, and the offspring of it would be a terrible reproach upon him if he should great men, he should not pry any farther; and he overlook this unjust oppression, and should suffer the foretold to him that he should have glory and violence of the men to prevail over the right of the honour among men, by the blessing of God upon maidens; he therefore drove away the men, who had him. He also commanded him to go with confia mind to more than their share, and afforded a | dence to Egypt, in order to his being the comproper assistance to the women, who, when they mander and conductor of the body of the Hebrews, had received such a benefit, came to their father, and and to his delivering his own people from the told him how they had been affronted by the shep-injuries they suffered there. “ For," said God, herds, and assisted by a stranger, and entreated that “ they shall inhabit this happy land, which your he would not let this generous action go without a forefather Abraham inhabited, and shall have the reward. Now the father took it well from his daugh- enjoyment of all sorts of good things; and thou, ters that they were so desirous to remunerate their by thy prudence, shalt guide them to those good benefactor, and bid them bring Moses into his pres- things." But he still enjoined him, when he had ence, that he might be rewarded as he deserved. brought the Hebrews out of the land of Egypt, to And when Moses came, he told him what testimony come to that place, and offer sacrifice of thankshis daughters bare to him that he had assisted them; giving there. Such were the divine oracles which and that, as he admired him for his virtue, he said, were delivered out of the fire. that Moses had bestowed such assistance on persons Moses was astonished at what he saw, and

* Jetheglacus, in the Greek of Josephus.

+ Exod. iji. 1.

*An. 1532.

Hereupon

much more at what he heard ; and he said, “I Accordingly he was enjoined to make no more think it would be an instance of too great mad- delays, but to hasten to Egypt, and to travel night ness, O Lord, for one of that regard I bear to thee, and day, and not to draw out the time; and so to distrust thy power, since I myself adore it, and make the slavery of the Hebrews, and their sufferknow that it has been made manifest to my pro- ings, to last no longer. genitors; but I am still in doubt how I, who am a Moses, having seen and heard these wonders, private man, and one of no abilities, should either that assured him of the truth of God's promises, persuade my countrymen to leave the country had no room left him to disbelieve them ; so he they now inhabit, and to follow me to a land entreated him to grant him that power when he whither I lead them; or, if they should be per- should be in Egypt, and besought him, since he suaded, how I can force Pharaoh to permit them had heard and seen him, that he would also tell to depart, since he augments his own wealth and him his name, and when he offered sacrifice he prosperity by the labours and works he puts upon might invoke him by such name in his oblations. them."

God declared to him that name which But God persuaded him to be courageous on all had never been discovered to men before, conoccasions, promising to be with him, and to assist cerning which it is not lawfulf for me to say any him in his words when he was to persuade men, more. Now these signs accompanied Moses, not and in his deeds when he was to perform wonders. then only, but always when he prayed for them; He bid him also take a signal of the truth of what of all which signs he attributed the firmest assent he said, by throwing his rod* upon the ground; to the fire in the bush ; and believing that God which when he had done, it crept along; and be- would be a gracious supporter to him, he hoped came a serpentyť and rolled itself round in its folds, he should be able to deliver his own nation, and and erected its head, as ready to revenge itself on bring calamities on the Egyptians. such as should assault it, and afterwards it became a rod again, as it was before. After this God bid

CHAP. XIII. Moses put his right hand into his bosom; he obeyed, and when he took it out it was white, and in colour like to chalk, but afterward it returned Moses having understood that Pharaoh, in to its wonted colour again. He also, upon God's whose reign he fled away, was dead, asked leave command, took some of the water that was near of Raguel to go to Egypt, for the benefit of his him, and poured it upon the ground, and saw the own people ; and he took with him Zipporah, the colour was that of blood. Upon the surprise that daughter of Raguel, whom he had married, and Moses testified at these signs, God exhorted him | the children he had by her, Gersom and Eleazar, to be of good courage, and to be assured that he and hastened into Egypt. Now the former of those would be the greatest support to him, and bid names, Gersom, in the Hebrew tongue signifies him make use of those signs in order to obtain that he was in a strange land: and Eleazar, that belief among all men, and to demonstrate that he by the assistance of the God of his fathers he had did all things according to the divine commands. escaped from the Egyptians.

OF THE RETURN OF MOSES AND AARON INTO EGYPT, TO PHARAOII.

* Wonderful are the stories which the Hebrew doctors tell us virtue in it, or in the hand of Moses, but merely by the power of this rod, viz. That it originally grew in Paradise, was brought of God, who was pleased, for the greater confusion of his eneaway by Adam, from him passed to Noah, and so through a suc- mies, to use so mean an instrument. Nor is it an improbable cession of patriarchs, till it came to be transplanted into Jethro's conjecture, that the wands which great ministers are wont to garden, and there took root again, God knows how; that it was carry in their hands, in token of their power and office, were called Zaphir, (whence Ziphorah his daughter had her name) and originally derived from this of Moses. Üniversal Hist. 1. c. 7; had the Tetragrammaton written upon it; that when Ziphorah and Pool's Annot. B.

† Exod. iv. 3. fell in love with Moses, her father consented that she should # This superstitious fear of discovering the name with four have him if he could pluck up this Zaphir-rod, at the same time letters, which of late have been used falsely to pronounce Jehopublishing a proclamation, that whoever did it first should marry vah, but seems to have been originally pronounced Jahoh, or his daughter; that hereupon several lusty young men came, and Jao, is never, I think, heard of till this passage of Josephus: and tried their strength in vain ; but that Moses, by being acquainted this superstition, in not pronouncing that name, is continued with the true pronunciation of the name of God, in virtue thereof among the Rabbinical Jews to this day; though whether the did it with ease, and so not only obtained his daughter, but this Samaritans and Caraites observed it so early, does not appear. rod into the bargain, with which he wrought afterwards all his Josephus also durst not set down the very words of the Ten wonders in Egypt. But how fictitious soever all this may be, it Commandments, as we shall see hereafter, III. 5; which superis certain that in Exod. iv. 20, this staff is called the rod of God; stitious silenee, I think, has yet not been continued even by the and that partly because it was appropriated to God's special ser- Rabbins. Both these cautious concealments, however, were vice, to be the instrument of all his glorious works; and partly probably taught Josephus by the Pharisees, a body of men at to show that whatever was done by that rod was not done by any once very wicked and very superstitious.

When they were near the borders, Aaron, his divine power exceeds the power of man ; but I will brother, by the command of God, met him: to whom demonstrate that what I do is not done by craft, or he declared what had befallen him at the mountain, so counterfeiting what is not really true, but that and the commands that God had given him: but as they appear by the providence and power of God.” they were going forward, the chief men among the When he had said this, he cast his rod down upon Hebrews having learned that they were coming, the ground, and commanded it to turn itself into a met them; to whom Moses declared the signs he serpent. It obeyed him, and went all round and had seen, and when they could not believe them, he devoured the rods of the Egyptians,t which seemed made them see them; so they took courage at these to be dragons, until it had consumed them all. It surprising and unexpected sights, and conceived then returned to its own form, and Moses took it hopes of their entire deliverance, as believing now into his hand again. that God took care of their preservation.

However, the king was no more moved when this Since then Moses found that the Hebrews would was done than before ; but being very angry, he be obedient to whatever he should direct, as they said, that he should gain nothing by this cunning promised, and that they were in love with liberty; and shrewdness against the Egyptians; at the same he came to the king, who had indeed but lately* time commanding the chief task-master over the received the government, and told him how much Hebrews to give them no relaxation from their he had done for the good of the Egyptians, when labours, but to compel them to submit to greater they were despised by the Ethiopians, and their oppressions than before ; and though he allowed country laid waste by them, and how he had been them chaff before for making their bricks, he the commander of their forces, and had laboured would allow it no longer, but he made them to work for them, as if they had been his own people ; and hard at brick-making in the daytime, and to gather he informed him in what danger he had been during chaff in the night. Now when their labour was that expedition, without having any proper returns thus doubled, they laid the blame upon Moses, made him, as he had deserved. He also stated, because their labour and their misery were on his distinctly, what things happened to him at Mount account become more severe. But Moses did not Sinai, and what God said to him, and the signs that let his courage sink for the king's threatenings; nor were done by God in order to assure him of the did he abate of his zeal on account of the Hebrews' authority of those commands which he had given complaints, but he supported himself, and set his him; he also exhorted him not to disbelieve what soul resolutely against them both, and used his uthe told him, nor to oppose the will of God. most diligence to procure liberty to his countrymen:

But when the king derided Moses, he made him so he went to the king and persuaded him to let the see the signs that were done at Mount Sinai; yet Hebrews go to Mount Sinai, and there to sacrifice was the king very angry, and called him a wicked to God, because God had enjoined them so to do. man, who had formerly run away from his Egyptian He persuaded him also not to counterwork the slavery, and now come back with deceitful tricks, designs of God, but to esteem his favour above all and wonders, and magical arts, to astonish him. things, and to permit them to depart lest he should And when he had said this, he commanded the lay an obstruction in the way of the divine commands, priests to let him see the same wonderful sights; as and so occasion his suffering such punishments, as knowing that the Egyptians were skilful in this it was probable any one that withstood the divine kind of learning, and that he was not the only commands should undergo, since the severest afflicperson who knew them, and pretended them to be tions arise from every object to those that provoke divine: he also told him, that when he brought such the divine wrath against them; for such as these wonderful sights before him, he would only be have neither the earth, nor the air, for their friends: believed by the unlearned. Now when the priests nor are the fruits of the womb according to nature, threw down their rods, they became serpents; but but every thing is unfriendly and adverse towards Moses was not daunted at it, and said, “O king, I them. He said farther, that the Egyptians should do not myself despise the wisdom of the Egyptians; know this by sad experience, and that the Hebrew but I say, that what I do is so much superior to people should go out of their country without perwhat these perform by magic arts and tricks, as mission.

* Josephus seems here mistaken in his Egyptian chronology, ready observed, how greatly he was mistaken in this entire when he says that this Pharaoh, who was then king, had but Egyptian chronology, and so in the king of Egypt, with whom lately begun his reign; nor is it any wonder, since I have al. Moses bad to do.

| Exod. vii. 12.

CHAP. XIV.

and as they died; they also spoiled their vessels in

their houses which they used, and were found among OF THE TEN PLAGUES WHICH CAME UPON THE EGYPTIANS

what' they ate and what they drank, and came in When the king despised the words of Moses, and great numbers upon their beds. There was also a had no regard at all to them, grievous plagues seized noisome smell arose from them, as they were born, the Egyptians ; every one of which I will describe ; and as they died therein. Now when the Egyptians both because no such plagues ever happened to any were under the oppression of these miseries, the other nation as the Egyptians now felt; and because king ordered Moses to take the Hebrews with him, I would demonstrate that Moses did not fail in any and be gone: upon which the whole multitude of one thing that he foretold them; and because it is the frogs vanished away; and both the land and for the good of mankind, that they may learn this the river returned to their former natures. But as caution, not to do any thing that may displease God, soon as Pharaoh saw the land freed from this plague, lest he be provoked to wrath, and avenge their he forgot the cause of it, and retained the Hebrews; iniquities upon them.

and, as though he had a mind to try the nature of Î'he Egyptian river ran with bloody water,* at more such judgments, he would not yet suffer Moses the command of God, insomuch, that it could not and his people to depart; having granted that liberty be drank; and they had no other spring of water. rather out of fear, than out of good consideration. For the water was not only of the colour of blood, Accordingly, God punished his falseness with but it brought upon those that ventured to drink it another plague, added to the former. For there great pains, and bitter torment. Such was the river arose, out of the bodies of the Egyptians, an into the Egyptians. But it was sweet and fit to drink numerable quantity of lice;f by which, wicked as to the Hebrews, and noway different from what it they were, they miserably perished; being unable naturally used to be. As the king, therefore, knew to destroy this sort of vermin, either with washes, not what to do in these surprising circumstances, or with ointments. ||At this terrible judgment, the aud was in fear for the Egyptians, he gave the He- king of Egypt was in disorder, upon the fear into brews leave to go away. But when the plague which he reasoned himself, lest his people should be ceased, he changed his mind, and would not suffer destroyed, and that the manner of this death was

also reproachful. So that he was forced in part to But when God saw that he was ungrateful, and recover himself from his wicked temper to a sounder upon the ceasing of the calamity would not grow mind; for he gave leave for the Hebrews themselves wiser, he sent another plague upon the Egyptians : to depart. But when the plague thereupon ceased, an innumerable multitude of frogst consumed the he thought it proper to require, that they should fruit of the ground. The river was also full of leave their children and wives behind them, as them; insomuch that those who drew water had it pledges of their return; whereby he provoked God spoiled by the blood of these animals, as they died to be more vehemently angry at him; as if he in, and were destroyed by, the water; and the thought to impose on his providence; and as if it country was full of filthy slime, as they were born, were only Moses, and not God, who punished the

them to go.

Exod. vii. 20.

+ Exod. viii. 6. tians. But upon the supposition that they were no worse than $ The river Nile naturally produces frogs; but so great an common lice, this was plague enough to the Egyptians, who abundance appearing on a sudden, filling the country, and affected neatness to such a degree, that they bathed themselves leaving the rivers and fields, to go into the cities and houses, every day, and some of them frequently shaved their bodies all was really miraculous. How they got into the cities and houses over, for fear of such vermin. Those who pretended that these is not so hard a matter to conceive: for if expert generals, ac lice were a new species, make this a reason why the magicians cording to both ancient and modern history, have sometimes could not counterfeit this miracle, because, though they could surprised an enemy by entering cities through the common easily provide the serpents, the blood, and the frogs, yet this sewers, with much less difficulty might the frogs, these armies sort of animal was now nowhere to be had; and therefore, as of the divine vengeance, find a conveyance into the cities, the organs of sight are more liable to be imposed upon than which stood all upon the banks of the river, by aqueducts and those of feeling, the magicians might impose upon the king, subterraneous communications; and being got into the cities, and the other spectators, with fantastical blood and frogs, they might find apertures in the walls of the houses, which the but visionary lice could not vex and torment the body; so that inhabitants never perceived before. Bibliotheca Bible in now it was time for the enchanters to desist, and to own their locum. B.

inability to mimic Moses any farther. But, supposing that what Exod. viii. 17.

the magicians did, in the three former miracles, was not illusion 1 Some would have the word Cinnim, which we render lice, and imposition upon the senses, but reality, the true reason why to signify gnats. The Septuagint call them Knum5; but what they could proceed no farther was, that God Almighty had laid kind of creatures these were, is not so certainly known. Others his restraint and prohibition upon the evil spirits, who had would have them to be a new species of animals, called ana hitherto been subservient to them, that they might not assist logically by an old name; or if they were lice, that they were them any longer. Le Clerc's Commentary; and Bibliotheca such as had wings, and cruelly stung and ulcerated the Egyp-Bibl. in locum. B.

Egyptians for the sake of the IIebrews. For he their bodies had terrible boils, breaking forth filled that country full of various sorts of pestilential with blains; while they were already inwardly creatures, * with their various properties ; such, consumed; and a great part of the Egyptians indeed, as never came into the sight of men before. perished in this manner. But when the king was By their means the men perished themselves, and not brought to reason by this plague, hail was the land was destitute of husbandmen for its cultiva- sent down from heaven ;f and such hail as the tion : but if any thing escaped destruction from climate of Egypt had never suffered before,f nor them, it was killed by a distemper, which the men was it like to that which falls in other climates || underwent also.

in winter time, but larger than that which falls in Pharaoh did not yet yield to the will of God; the middle of spring to those that dwell in the but while he gave leave to the husbands to take northern and north-western regions. This hail their wives with them, he insisted that the chil- brake down their boughs laden with fruit. After dren should be left behind; God therefore resolv- this a tribe of locusts consumed the seed which ed to punish his wickedness with several sorts was not hurt by the hail; so that to the Egyptians of calamities, and those worse than the foregoing, all the hopes of future fruits of the ground were which had yet so generally afflicted them ; but entirely lost. I

* The word Arob, which we render fly in general, is by the with frost : he gave up the cattle also to the hail, and their flocks Septuagint called Kuvolvia, i. e. dog-fly, from its biting; for it to hot thunderbolts. Ps. lxxviii. 47, 48. And from the plain fastens its teeth so deep in the flesh, and sticks so very close, account of Moses, where he mixes thunder, hail, and fire tothat it oftentimes makes cattle run mad; and the congruity of gether, Exod. ix. 23, the observation is obvious, that here were this plague scems to be greater, because one of the Egyptian no less than three of the elements in confederacy against Phadeities, which they called Anubis, bore the head of a dog. The raoh's obstinacy; the air in the thunder; the water in the hail; Psalmist indeed tells us, that God sent divers sorts of flies and the fire in the lightning, all jointly demonstrating and proamong them, which devoured them. Ps. lxxviii. 45. So that claiming, that the God of Israel was the God of nature. B. according to him, it was not one particular kind, but all sorts Exod. ix. 24. of fies mingled together in one prodigious swarm or conflux. li As to this winter or spring hail near Egypt and Judea, see Some translate it a mixture of beasts, which they suppose went the like on thunder and lightning there in the note on VI. 5, into Egypt to infest and destroy the country; but this is not so and Havercamp's note on III. 1. probable a construction, because the punishments hitherto in I This is the creature which we properly call the grasshopficted were nauseous and troublesome, rather than mortal ; | per; and wonderful is the account which several authors give though this plague of infinite numbers of small tormentors is of them. Thevenot, in his travels, tells us, “ That in that part so great a one, that God calls it his army, Joel ii. 25, and the of Scythia which the Cossacks now inhabit, there are infinite (28us

numbers of them, especially in dry seasons, which the northgod to deliver them from it, under the style of Myiagros, or cast wind brings 'over from Tartary, Circassia, and Mingrelia

, Myiodes, even as Belzebub signifies the Lord or God of flies. which are seldom or never free from them; that they fly in the Bochurt, Hier. part 2. B.

air all compact together, like a vast cloud, sometimes 15 or † The Hebrew word Shechin properly signifies an inflamma- | 18 miles long, and about 10 or 12 miles broad; so that they tion, which first makes a tumor or boil, (as we translate it,) and quite darken the sky, and make the brightest day obscure; and thence turns a grievous ulcer. Dr. Lightfoot indeed observes, that wherever they light, they devour all the corn in less than that in the book of Job, chap. ii. 7, 8, where the same word oc two hours' time, and frequently make a famine in the country. curs, it signifies only a burning itch, or an inflamed scab; an These insects,” says he, “ live not above six months; and when intolerable dry itch, which Job could not scratch off with his they are dead, the stench of them so corrupts and infects the nails, and was therefore forced to make use of a potsherd: but air, that it very often breeds dreadful pestilences.” God (as we then he confesses that this Shechin here spoken of, was more hinted before) calls the locust, the canker worm, caterpillar, and rancorous than that, having blains and ulcers that broke out | the palmer worm, his great army which he sends amongst a with it, which Job's had not. So that the Egyptians, accord- wicked and rebellious people. Joel, ii. 25. And how proper ing to this, must have been vexed with a triple punishment at the expression is, in relation to the locust in particular, will aponce, (a punishment fitly calculated for the mortification of a pear from the account which Aldrovandus and Fincelius give us delicate and a voluptuous people,) aching boils, nauseous ulcers, of these animals, viz. “That in the year of our Lord 852, an in. and a burning itch ; and to this that communication of Moses to finite number of them was seen to fly over twenty miles in Ger. the people, in case they proved disobedient, does, without all many in one day, in the manner of a formed army, divided in peradventure, allude. The Lord will smite thee with the botch several squadrons, and having their quarters apart when they of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the rested; that the captains marched a day's journey before the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed. Deut. xxviii. 27. B. rest, and chose the most opportune places for their camp; that

# This infection was the more terrible in Egypt, because, ac they never removed until sun-rising, at which time they went away cording to the account of Herodotus, (l. 3, c. 10,) a very rare in as much order as any army of men could do; that at last having thing it was to see any rain, and much more any hail, in that done great mischief wherever they passed, (after prayers made to climate: and accordingly he mentions it as a kind of prodigy, God,) they were driven by a violent wind into the Belgic ocean, that in the reign of Psammenitus, there happened to be a shower and there drowned; but that, being cast by the sea upon the in Thebes, which was never known before in the memory of shore, they covered 140 acres of land, and caused a great pesman, nor ever after, to the age wherein our author wrote. The tilence in the country;" which is enough to show how dreadful Psalmist has given us a very poetic description of this judg- a punishment this was, especially considering that these locusts ment: He destroyed the vines with hail, and the sycamore trees were such as were never known before, and yet the ordinary

« PreviousContinue »