« PreviousContinue »
(geographical historical) dates, Arphaxad, Selah, and Eber Arphaxad four hundred and thirty-eight years. Selah four hundred and thirty-five, and Heber four hundred and sixty-four.
- Supposing Arphaxad to represent the duration of the Semitic settlement Arapakithis, the mountainous district above Assyria, prior to the memory of man, The Mission' would represent the journey towards the plains three years before the close of this migration, and · Heber' would represent the period when the migrating race passed over the Cpper Tigris on their way to the Upper Mesopotamia. The year 464 would, in that case, be the one in which they entered Mesopotamia proper, and the tribe must have remained in a compact body two hundred and thirty-nine years before a portion of them commenced the great migration southward, the result of which was the foundation of the kingdom of Southern Asia.” (Vol. iii. p. 367.)
“This would make nine hundred and thirty-three years to Nahor, the grandfather of Abraham” (i. e., 464 +239 + 230 =933 years). (Vol. iii. p. 369.)
Sober criticism on the above would be entirely out of place. We venture to affirm that there is not within the whole compass of literature another such perversion of an evidently plain historical narrative into a monstrous historico-chronologico-geographical jumble.
“ Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.” (Gen. vii. 6.) This six hundred years is “ the Chaldaic equation between the lur and solar years.” “ And Noah lived after the flood three · indred and fifty years.” This is a half of another equa
a surplus of fifty years.” Only fifty more! “ Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and bega and Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four
e and thirty years, and begat Salah : and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
after he begat Salah four hundred
sat sons and daughters.” (Gen. xi.
12, 13.) This four hundred and thirty-eight years represents “the duration of the Semitic settlement in Arapa. kithis, the mountainous district above Assyria, prior to the memory of man.” And the sacred writer probably, “ in order to assist his chronology, added at random the thirty-five years when the first son was born.” (!) “And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber; and Salah lived, after he begat Eber, four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.” (Gen. xi. 14, 15.) Salah means “the mission.” “ The four hundred and thirtythree years represent the commencement of the journey toward the plains, three years before the close of this migration.” “Heber” means the settler over the river” (Tigris); and “represents the period when the migrating race passed over the Upper Tigris on their way to Upper Mesopotamia. The year 464 would, in that case, be the one in which they entered Mesopotamia proper, and the tribe must have remained in a compact body two hundred and thirty-nine years before a portion of them commenced the great migration southward, which was the foundation of the primeval kingdom of Southern Asia.” And so of the other names and numbers. But Bunsen has not told us what was meant, on his theory, by the frequently recurring phrase, “ and he begat sons and daughters.” This he was certainly bound to do. It is true that in the case of the two sons of Heber, Peleg and Y.oktan, he makes the former mean “ derivation,” “ division, two hundred and thirty-nine years,” and the latter the real “ father of thirteen South Arabian raçes;” which distinction appears to have been made on some principle
of philosophy peculiar to him; but he ought not to have left unexplained so important a phrase so frequently occurring as “sons and daughters.”
We must devote a little space to our author's chronology of Abraham and the two or three succeeding generations. For in this his 6 philosophy” appears to peculiar advantage. After giving the well-known numbers, as in the following table, –
Abraham lived 175 years, Isaac, 180 years,
Joseph, 110 years,
“Here it is not a question of a solitary exception in the case of one individual. It is true that no instance can be adduced demonstrably of any one reaching the age of one hundred and eighty. Such a case, however, as an exception, would not contravene the laws of nature. But that three patriarchs should have lived, one after the other, one hundred and fifty years, and even more, and the viceroy, Joseph, their successor, one hundred and ten, cannot be historical. There must be some means of detecting some blunder here, or else the historical nature of the narrative will be liable to grave suspicion. None but those who cling to the infatuation that the antediluvian patriarchs, as well as Noah and Shem, lived from six hundred to one thousand years, have any excuse to offer for such purely childish delusions, persistence in which can only be productive of doubt and unbelief.
“But there is no country in which it is so improbable that a man a hundred years old should have a son as in a land of early development, like Syria and Canaan.* But are we compelled,
* Our author's “philosophy” likewise sets aside the plain declarations of the New Testament. What becomes, on his theory, of Rom. iv. 19 and Heb. xi. II, which indorse the account in Gen. xviii. 10-15 and xxi. 58
on that account, to regard these four ages of the patriarchs as primitive inventions? No one who admits the strictly historical character of the principal branch of the family narrative of this period will come to this conclusion.”* (Vol. iii. pp. 340, 341.)
“But, then, this family possessed an era, as was always the case with noble Semitic races; this era must have been that of the * immigration.” † (Ibid.)
“In the history of Abraham we find two predominant numbers, the seventy-fifth year (that of the immigration), and the one hundredth (the birth of Isaác). In this interval, so many events occurred, also, as to require a considerably long sojourn in Canaan prior to his birth.
“We assume, therefore, seventy-five as the year before the birth of Isaac, twenty-five as the duration of the sojourn in Canaan, and, consequently, fifty-one as the first year of the settlement in Canaan.
“ But there is also a place for the one hundredth year (which is said to be that of the birth of Isaac), as the year in which Abrahamn died. This, again, can not be accidental. The computation backward - the turning-point is so historically important and well established – leads directly to the same conclusion. According to this, Jacob died in the one hundred and forty-seventh year, not of his own life, but of the era from the immigration of Abraham. Joseph again, not of his own age, but of the era of Jacob.” (Vol. iii. p. 344.)
“ The reader will here find an account taken of every date which occurs in the Scripture narrative.f Whatever is determined upon grounds of internal probability, such as the births of Isaac and Jacob, is placed in brackets. There can not, therefore, be an error of more than two or three years at most. S
** Our author distinctly admits that Abraham is strictly an historical person, as well as Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. † Mere assumption.
The Italics are ours. § Referring to a table which is not copied, the essential part appearing in what follows.
Those which are placed in parentheses are such as arise out of the entries in the Bible in reference to years of marriage. These are, consequently, in themselves thoroughly authentic. All the other dates are taken directly from the Bible."*
Truly, this is taking the subject of chronology “out of the domain of chronology and history into that of pure , philosophy.” (Vol. iv. p. 22.) An account is taken of every date in the Scripture narrative! Only the date of the son's birth is changed to that of the death of the father, the real date of this latter event being ignored altogether. Is any language, proper for a Christian to use, too severe in reprehension of such a procedure? What! we involuntarily exclaim, was the man insane? Had he become imbecile? Had he so long been groping amid the sepulchral monuments of antiquity that he could not recognize, in the clear light of day which other men use, a plain historical fact?
“ And Abraham was an 'hundred years old when Isaac was born” (Gen. xxi. 5); that is, as our author interprets it, “ he was a hundred years old when he died.” “ And, Abraham was seventy-five years old when he departed out of Haran” (Gen. xii. 4); that is, “ the seventy-fifth year is the year before Isaac was born.” And so of other dates and events in connection with the Scripture narrative. “ An account is taken of every date in the Scripture narrative.” He might as well have taken the alphabetical letters and figures in the first fifteen chapters of Genesis, and so transposed and arranged them as to make out a story of the creation about 20,000 B. C., and of the flood
* Egypt's Place in Universal History, vol. iii. p. 344.