« PreviousContinue »
A FAMINE ; AND OF HIS SUBSEQUENT RETURN.
happiness of men, that each of them afforded Naded the land
of Canaan, and Abram
both for understanding all things, and per- which posterity of his we relate their bistory
OF ABRAM'S DEPARTURE INTO EGYPT IN CONSEQUENCE OF as to other gods, if they contributed to the
this, it according to his appointment, and not by their own power. This opinion was derived had discovered that the Egyptians were in a from the irregular phænomena that were visi- Aourishing condition, he was disposed to go ble both at land and sea; as well as those that down to them; both to partake of the plenty happen to the sun and moon, and all the hea- they enjoyed, and to learn what their priests venly bodies, thus: “If,” said he, “these asserted concerning the gods : designing eibodies had power of their own, they would ther to follow them, if they had better nocertainly take care of their own regular mo- tions than he; or to convert them into a bettions; but, since they do not preserve such re- ter way, if his own notions proved the truest. gularity, they make it plain that so far as they Now as he was to take Sarai with him, and operate to our advantage, they do it of their was afraid of the madness of the Egyptians own abilities, but as they are subservient to with regard to women, lest the king should him that commands them; to whom alone we kill him on occasion of his wife's great beauty, ought justly to offer our honor and thanks-he contrived this device: He pretended to be giving.” For which doctrines when the Chal- her brother, and directed her in a dissembling deans and other people of Mesopotamia raised way to pretend the same: for he said, it a tumult against him, he thought fit to leave would be for their benefit. Now as soon as that country; and at the command and by the they came into Egypt, it happened to Abram assistance of God, he came and lived in the as he supposed. For the fame of his wife's land of Canaan.* And when he was there beauty was greatly talked of; for which reasettled, he built an altar, and performed a son Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, would not sacrifice to God.
be satisfied with what was reported of her, Berosus mentions our father Abram without but would needs see her himself. But God naming him, when he says, “In the tenthput a stop to his unjust inclinations, by sendgeneration after the flood, there was among ing upon him a distemper, and a sedition the Chaldeans a man, righteous and great, against his government. And when he inand skilful in the celestial science." But He- quired of his priests, how he might be freed cateus does more than barely mention him; } from these calamities, they told bim, that his for he composed and left behind him a book miserable condition was derived from the concerning him. And Nicolaus of Damascus, wrath of God, upon account of his inclinain the fourth book of bis history, says, “ Abram tion to abuse the stranger's wife. He then, reigned at Damascus; being a foreigner, who out of fear, asked Sarai who she was, and came with an army out of the land above who it was that she had brought along with Babylon, called the land of the Chaldeans. her? And when he had discovered the truth, But after å long time he removed from that he excused himself to Abram, that supposing country also, with his people, and went into the woman to be his sister, and not his wife, the land then called the land of Canaan, but he set his affection on her, as desiring an afnow the land of Judea : and this when his finity with him by marrying her, but not as posterity were become a multitude; as to incited by lust to abuse her. He also made Gen. xii. 5.
+ Gen, xii, 10,
OF THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SODOMITES BY THE
* him a large present in money;
and leave to enter into conversation with the most
CHAP. IX. learped among the Egyptians. From which conversation his virtue and reputation became more conspicuous than they had been before.
For whereas the Egyptians were formerly T this time, when Assyrians had the addicted to different customs, and despised each other's sacred and accustomed rites, and were in a flourishing condition; both as to were angry one with another on that ac- riches and the number of their youth. There count: Abram conferred with each of them, were five kings that managed the affairs of and confuting the reasonings they made use this country; Ballas, Barsas, Senabir, and of for their respective practices, he demon. Sumobor, with the king of Bela; and each strated that such reasonings were vain, and king led on his own troops. And the Asvoid of truth. Whereupon he was admired syrians made war upon them, and, dividing by them in those' conferences as a very wise their army into four parts, fought against man, and one of great sagacity, when he dis-them. Now every part of the army had its coursed on any subject he undertook;. and own commander; and when the battle was this, not only in understanding it, but in per- joined, the Assyrians were conquerors, and imsuadjpg other men also to assent to him. He posed a tribute upon the kings of the Sodomcommunicated to them arithmetic, and de-ites, who submitted to this slavery twelve livered to them the science of astronomy. years; and so long they continued to pay their For before Abram came into Egypt they were tribute; but on the thirteenth year they reunacquainted with some parts of learning; forbelled; and then the army of the Assyrians that science came from the Chaldeans into came upon them, under their commanders Egypt, and from thence to the Greeks also. Amraphel, Arioch, Chedorlaomer, † and Ti
As soon as Abram returned into-Canaan, he dal. $ These kings had laid waste all Syria, parted the land between him and Lot, upon and overthrown the offspring of the giants. account of the tumultuous behaviour of their And when they were come over against Soshepherds, * concerning the pastares wherein dom, they pitched their camp at the vale they should feed their focks. However, he called the Slimepits; for at that time there gave Lot bis option, or leave, to chuse wbich were many pits' in that place; but upon the lands he would take ; and he took, bimself, destruction of the city of Sodom, that vale bewhat the other left; which were the lower came the lake Asphaltites, as it is called : grounds at the foot of the mountains; and he however, concerning this lake we shall speak himself dwelt in Hebron, which is a city more presently. Now when the Sodomites seven years ancienter than Tanis of Egyptt: joined battle with the Assyrians, and the fight But Lot possessed the land of the plain and was very obstinate, many of them were killed, the river Jordan, not far from the city of and the rest were carried .captive; among Sodom : which was then a fine city, but is which captives was Lot, who had come to now destroyed, by the will and wrath of God; assist the Sodomites. as will be shown in its proper place hereafter.
* Gen. xii..7.
Moses, at that time the head of the Assyrian monarchy: + Numbers xjii. 22.
that Amraphel was bis deputy at Babylon in Shinar : and We no.where in profane bistory meet with the Arioch and Tidal bis deputies over some other adjacent name of Chedorlaomer, nor with any of those names of countries. For it is remarkable, that Ninyas was the the kings who were confederate with him. The reason first who appointed under him such deputies: nor is hereof is, that Clesias X. from whom the profane histo- there any absurdity in Moses to call them kings, since it rians take the names of these kings, did not use their is observable, from what Isaiah hinted, afterwards, chap. original Assyrian names in his history, but rather such x. 8, that the Assyrian boasted bis deputy princes to be as he found in the Persian records. However, since the equal to royal governors. Are not my princes altogether date of this transaction fålls four years before the death kings? Shuckford's Connexion; Vol. II. 1. 6. B. of Ninyas, there are good grounds to infer, that Ninyas, § Gen. xiv. 1, who then lived in Persia, was the Chedorlaomer of
AND HIS RESCUE OF THE SODOMITE PRISONERS.
the priest of God. However, they afterwards CHAP. X.
called Salem Jerusalem. Now this Mel
chisedec suppliud Abram's army in an hospitaOF Abkam's succESSFUL ENGAGEMENT WITH THE ASSYRIANS, | ble manner, and gave them provisions in
abundance: and as they were feasting, he beWHEN Abram heard of their calamity
, gan to praise him, and to bless God for sub,
And when man, and pitied the Sodomites, his friends and Abram gave him the tenth part of his prey, neighbours: and thinking it proper to afford he accepted of the gift. But the king of them assistance, he did not delay it, but Sodom desired Abram to take the prey; but marched hastily, and the fifth night fell upon intreated that he might have those men rethe Assyrians near Dan; for that is the name stored to him whom Abram had saved from of the other spring of Jordan; and before they the Assyrians, because they belonged to him. could arm themselves he slew them as they But Abram would not do so; nor would make were in their beds; and others who were not || any other advantage of that prey than what yet gone to sleep, but were so intoxicated they his servants had eaten ; but still insisted that could not fight, ran away. Abram pursued he should afford a part to his friends who had after them till, on the second day, he drove assisted him in the battle. The first of them them in a body unto Hoba,* a place belong. I was called Eschol, and the others Enner and ing to Damascus; and thereby demonstrated Mambre. that victory does not depend on multitude, God commended his virtue, and said, “ Thou and the number of hands, but that the alacrity shalt not, however, lose the rewards thou hast and courage of soldiers overcome the most deserved to receive by such glorious actions." numerous bodies of men: while he got the He answered, “ And what advantage will victory over so great an army with no more it be to have such rewards, when I have than three hundred and eighteen of his ser none to enjoy them after me?" for he was vants, and three of his friends. But all those that | hitherto childless. And God promised that fed returned home ingloriously. So Abrain, he should have a son, and that his posterity when he had saved the captive Sodomites, should be very numerous ; insomuch that their who had been taken by the Assyrians, and number should be like the stars. When he Lot, also, his kinsman, returned home 'in heard that, he offered a sacrifice to God, as peace.
he commanded him. The manner of the saNow the king of Sodom met him at a cer-crifice was this:f He took an heifer of three tain place, which they called the King's Dale, years old, and a she-goat of three years old, where Melchisedec, king of the city of Salem, and a ram in like manner of three years old, received him. That name signifies the righ- and a turtle dove, and a pigeon; and as he teous king: and such he was without dispute, was enjoined, he divided the three formert, insomuch that, on this account, he was made but the birds he did not divide. After which,
* Gen. xiv. 15.
symbolically staking their hopes of purification and sal+ It is worthy of remark, that God required no other | vation on their
performance of the conditions on which it sacrifices under the law of Moses, than what were taken was offered. This remarkable practice may be clearly from these five kinds of animals which he here required of traced in the Greek and Latin writers. Homer has the Abram. Nor did the Jews feed upon any other domestic following expression: Ogxia wisa Tiportes, Il. ii. 124. animals than the three here named, as Reland observes on | “ Having cut' faithful oaths.' Antiq. IV. 4.
passage by saying, they were oaths relating lo important # It was a customary thing to cut the victim, which matters, and were made by the division of the victim. See was to be offered as a sacrifice upon the occasion, into also Virgil, Æn. viii. ver. 640. The editor to the Fragtwo parts, and so placing each half upon two different ments, Supplementary to Calmet, No. 129, is of opinion altars, to cause those who contracted the covenant to pass that what is yet practised of this ceremony may elucibetween both. This rite was practised both by believers date that passage in Isaiah xxviii. 15. “We have made a and heathens at their solemn leagues : at first, doubtless, covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement: with a view to the great Sacrifice, who was to purge our when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall sins in his own blood : and the offering of these sacrifices, not come unto us, for we have made lies our refuge, and unand passing between the parts of the divided victim, was der falsehood have we hid ourselves.” That is, we have cat
before he built. bis altar, where the birds of being in such a miserable case was, that she prey flew about as desirous of blood, a divine had been ungrateful and arrogant towards voice came to him, declaring that their neigh. her mistress. He also told her, that if she bours would be grievous to his posterity, when disobeyed God, and went on still on her way, they should be in Egypt, for four hundred || she should perish: but if she would return years :* during which time they should be back, she should become the mother of a son, afflicted, but afterwards should overcome their || who should reign over that country. These enemies, should conquer the Canaanites in war, admonitions she obeyed, and returned to her and possess themselves of their land, and of master and mistress, and obtained forgiveness. their cities.
A little while afterwards, she gave birth to Now Abram dwelt near the oak called Ismael, † which may be interpreted Heard of Ogyges: the place belongs to Canaan, not God: because God heard his mother's prayer. far from the city of Hebron. But, being un This son was born to Abram when he was easy at his wife's barrenness, be intreated God eighty-six years old. I But when he was to grant that he might have male issue : and ninety-nine, God appeared to him, and proGod required of him to be of good courage, mised that he should have a son by Sarai, and said, that he would add to all the rest of and commanded that his name should be the benefits he had bestowed upon him, ever | Isaac: and showed him that from this son since be led him out of Mesopotamia, the should spring great nations and kinge ; and gift of children. Accordingly Sarai, at God's that they should obtain the land of Canaan command, brought to his bed one of her by war from Sidon to Egypt. But he handmaidens, a woman of Egyptian descent, || charged, in order to keep his posterity unin order to obtain children by her: and when mixt with others, that they should he circumthis handmaid was pregnant, she triumphed, cised in the flesh of their foreskin, and that and ventured to affront Sarai, as if the do- this should be done on the eighth day after minion were to come to a son to be born of they were born. The reason of which cirher. But when Abram resigned her into the cumcision I will explain in another place. hands of Sarai, to punish her, she contrived And Abram enquiring also concerning Ismael, to flee away, as not able to bear the instances whether he should live or not; God signified of Sarai's severity to her: and she intreated to him that he should live to be very old, and God to have compassion on her.
should be the father of great nations. Abram divine angel met her as she was going for- therefore gave thanks to God for these blessward in the wilderness, and bid her return to ings; and then he, with his son Ismael, and her master and mistress; for if she would all his family, were circumcised immediately : submit to that wise advice, she should live the son being that day thirteen years of age, better hereafter: for that the reason of her and Abram ninety-nine.
a covenant sacrifice, a purification offering with death, || ship, and the other over the left, into the sea, as a kind
Gen. xvi, 16.
OF THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SODOMITE NATION, ON AC.
COUNT OF THEIR SINS.
he would not destroy the righteous with the wicked. But when God bad replied, that there was no good man among the Sodomites, for if there were but ten such men among them he would not punish any of them for
And the proud on account of their riches and angels came to the city of the Sodomites, and great wealth : they became unjust towards Lot intreated them to accept a lodging with men, and impious towards God; insomuch him ;t for he was a very generous and basthat they did not call to mind the advantages pitable man, and one that had learned to imithey received from him : they hated strangers, tate the goodness of Abraham. Now when and abused themselves with unnatural prac- the Sodomites saw the young men to be of tices. God was therefore much displeased at beautiful countenances, and this to an extrathem, and determined, as a punishment for ordinary degree, and that they took up their their pride, to overthrow their city, and lay | lodgings with Lot, they resolved to possess waste their country, till there should neither those beautiful boys by force; and when Lot plant nor fruit grow out of it.
exhorted them to sobriety, and not to offer When God had thus resolved concerning any thing immodest to the stravgers, but to the Sodomites, Abraham, as he sat by the have regard to their lodging in his house, and oak of Mambre, at the door of his tent, saw | promised that, if their inclinations could not be three angels ; * and thinking them to be governed, he would expose his daughters to strangers, he rose up, and saluted them, and their lust, instead of these strangers; neither desired they would accept of an entertain- | thus were they made ashamed. ment, and abide with him ; to which when But God was much displeased at their imthey agreed, he ordered cakes of meal to be pudent behaviour, so that he both smote those made ; and when he had slain a calf, he roasted men with blindness, I and condemned the it, and brought it to them as they sat under Sodomites to universal destruction; but Lot, the oak. Now they made a show of eating : upon God's informing him of the future de and besides they asked him about his wife struction of the Sodomites, went away, taking Sarah, where she was; and when he said she with him his wife and two daughters, who was within, they said they should come again were still virgins, for those that were behereafter, and find her become a mother. trothed to them were above the thoughts of Upon which the woman laughed, and said, || going, and deemed Lot's words trifling. God that it was impossible she should bear chil- | then cast a thunderbolt upon the city, and dren, since she was ninety years of age, and set it on fire, with its inhabitants, and laid her husband was an hundred. Then they waste the country with the like burning, as concealed themselves no longer, but declared I formerly said when I wrote the Jewish that they were angels of God; and that one war;| but Lot's wife continually turning of them was sent to inform them about the back to view the city, as she went from it, child, and two for the overthrow of Sodom. and being too inquisitive what would become
When Abraham heard this, he was grieved of it, although God had forbidden her so to for the Sodomites; and he rose up, and be- | do, was changed into a pillar of salt; for I sought God for them, and intreated him that have seen it, and it remains at this day, Now
Gen, xxviii. 2.
standing then is also attested by Clement of Rome, con. * Gen. xix. 11.
temporary with Josephus; as also that it was in the These sons-in-law to Lot, as they are called, Gen. next century is attested by Irenæus, with the addition xix. 12, 14, might be so styled because they were betroth- of an hypothesis, how it came to last so long, with all ed to Lot's daughters, though not yet married to them. its members entire. Whether the account that some mo. See the Note on XIV. 13.
dern travellers give be true, that it is still standing, I do ll Of the War, IV. 8.
not know. Its remote situation, at the utmost southern This pillar of salt was, we see here, standing in point of the sea of Sodom, in the wild and dangerous the days of Josephus, and he had seen it. That it was deserts of Arabia, makes it exceeding difficult for inquisi.