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declared they would be if they should forsake him. The strangest of all histories indeed it is! as it might indeed have been expected to be, since God is its author, and his government over all, and his love for all, its subject. Every Jew, scattered as those people are over all the earth, is yet a leaf in that book ; and all men may read.
We revert here to a subject already glanced at, but needing further remark, namely, the surprise sometimes expressed by critics at the fact that in this Jewish polity, drawn out by Moses in so much detail, the subject of the soul's immortality, with the vast amount of powerful motives to be drawn from this, is unnoticed. Bishop Warburton has even deduced from this silence a singular argument for establishing the divine legation of this great leader. A very probable reason, however, for such neglect, seems clearly to lie in the necessity of avoiding everything that would sweep the multitudes back into the Egyptian superstitions. Among these, the observances for the dead, joined in close connection with Osiris the judge of the dead, formed, as has been already noticed, a large part of the religious and domestic life of the Egyptians. The mind of any individual whatever must have been confounded immediately, in trying to penetrate into that subject. To their priests it was one full of mysticisms; to their people it was knit inextricably with Osiris, whom it made in their minds, as he was in their sculptured temples, the great god to be honored, and whose favor was to be sought. To these Israelites, to whom all this had been familiar from childhood, and who were now ready to rush back into such superstitions with that momentum which love and reverence for their own dead must have produced, it would now have been dangerous to give any such impulse or encouragement; and it was safer altogether to avoid the topic, leaving the immense amount of motives for right action that can be drawn from the soul's immortality, to the operation of their already formed belief that the soul does not perish at death. This belief they doubtless all entertained. Moses was content to let the matter so rest, rather than to stir up thoughts that might carry them rapidly back into idolatry. His own purpose was now a single and simple one, namely, to lift them up to a faith in the true God and obedience to Him. How fully they were imbued with the Egyptian superstitions and idolatries, we see from Joshua xxiv. 14, and God's word in Ezekiel xx. 7, 8, and from their quick action in the case of the golden calf here at Sinai.
1 Bishop Warburton's "Divine Legation of Moses Demonstrated.” We give a summary of his argument, using his own words:
“We erect our demonstration on these three very clear and simple propositions:
“I. That to inculcate the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments, is necessary to the well-being of civil society.
“II. That all mankind, especially the most wise and learned nations of antiquity, have concurred in believing and teaching that this doctrine was of such use to civil society.
“III. That the doctrine of a future state of rewards and punishments is not to be found in, nor did make part of, the Mosaic dispensation.
“IV. That therefore the Law of Moses is Divine original, which one or both of the following syllogisms will evince:
“1. Whatsoever religion and society have no future state for their support, must be supported by an extraordinary Providence. The Jewish religion and society had no future state for their support. Therefore the Jewish religion and society were supported by an extraordinary Providence.
“Again, 2. The ancient lawgivers universally believed that such religion could be supported only by an extraordinary Providence. Moses, an ancient lawgiver, versed in all the wisdom of Egypt, purposely instituted such a religion :
“Therefore Moses believed his religion was supported by an extraordinary Providence.”
Indeed, the difficulties in legislating for this people, so crude in intellect, so debased in habits by their long slavery, so ready to become insolent in self-sufficiency, even by reason of God's constant favor to them, and at the same time so ready to desert him for any false gods, must have been felt to be almost insurmountable—especially as Moses had no physical force to sustain his authority among them, and could only appeal to their convictions, which seem often to have had very little influence over their conduct. Only one power he had in addition to their convictions, and this arose from these outward manifestations of Jehovah, such as at Sinai—the thunder and lightning on the mountain top, the cloud and glory at the Tabernacle, and the retributions following on their misdeeds. Yet, just after the manifestations on Sinai, they had hastened to make an imitation of the Egyptian Mnevis, and in nakedness had danced before the golden calf! He had indeed a difficult task.
great system of laws cannot, of course, be drawn out in this book, and the reader is referred for them to the Bible itself: we only glance, in conclusion, at an order for three special observances in each year; the Passover festival, commemorative of the night scene at the time of their deliverance from slavery; the Feast of Tabernacles, to be a reminder of their present journeying and its events; and the Feast of Pentecost, or a general thanksgiving to God for the blessings of the year.
THE MOVEMENT FROM SINAI.
THE cloud rose from the Tabernacle. It was the signal
for a movement! The signal was a welcome one; for inactivity had become wearisome to those great multitudes, among whom, since the Tabernacle had been finished and the novelty of the sacrifices and of the new forms had passed away, there had been little to occupy the mind.
The manner of movement in their future journeyings and the plan of their encampment when the ground would admit of it, were now all well systematized and written out. In encamping, the Tabernacle was to have the central place. In front of it, that is, on the east, were to be, after a sufficient vacant interval, the tents of Moses and Aaron. On its right were to be the Kohathites, numbering eight thousand six hundred males from one year old and upward: and it was the duty of these to transport and take care of the ark, the table, candlesticks, altars, and other appurtenances of the Tabernacle and court: on the left, the Merarites (six thousand two hundred males), who had charge of the pillars, bars, sockets, boards, etc.; in the rear, the Gershonites (seven thousand five hundred males), who were to transport the coverings and hangings and similar things belonging to the Tabernacle and its court. These were all families of the tribe of Levi, and therefore particularly devoted to the religious services. Outside of all these was the general encampment of tribes; and beginning at the north-east and going westward, were Asher, Daniel and Naphtali; then south, Manasseh, Ephraim and Benjamin; then east, Simeon, Reuben and Gad; and then north, Issachar, Judah and Zebulun. A numbering of the tribes had just been made, which showed that those from twenty years and upward, who were able to go forth to war, amounted to 603,550: this was independently of the Levites, whose males, twenty years and upward, were twenty-two thousand in number. The whole encampment, if made according to the plan thus drawn out, it is computed, would require about twelve miles on each side; consequently it was only on wide open ground that such an arrangement could be carried into effect. The surplus of contributions which had been offered and declined at the construction of the Tabernacle, had been afterward called for, when the altar for sacrifices was ready for use. Among the offerings of gold and silver, and cattle, now freely made, were also draughtoxen, which, with wagons for carrying the coarser portions of the Tabernacle and court, assisted materially in the labor of transportation.
A religious ceremony was used when the ark was moved, and again when it came to a halting-place; in the former case Moses said, “Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered ; and let them that hate thee fee before thee:" and in the latter, “Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel."
The vast company was again in motion. The neighborhood of Sinai had become like a home to them; so familiar was now every spot there, and so filled with various associations of friendly intercourse among themselves and of mutual labors. Every crag of the awful mountain and of the surrounding peaks had been gazed upon, till it had become like an old acquaintance. The more restless among them had penetrated the defiles leading in all directions among the frowning precipices, and had climbed the heights of the mountain now called Jebel Catharin, immediately on the south-west from Sinai, and from its peak, eight thousand two hundred and seventy-two feet above the sea, or two thousand seven hundred and seventy above the encampment, had gazed on the wide prospect which it commanded. This embraces the immense billowy masses of mountains spread far around ; and beyond these, on the west, the Gulf of Suez and its African shore; on the east, portions of the Gulf of Akabah, and on the north, the range of Et Tih beyond which is seen to stretch, far onward, the level, sandy desert. The whole scene exhibited so widely before the spectator is very grand, but also very gloomy and desolate. If in all directions, the prospect to those spectators was repulsive, it was particularly so toward the