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time of which Moses speaks in ch. 4. 3, the Levitical service was exceedingly severe, and consequently required full grown, robust men to perform it the age of thirty was therefore appointed as the period for commencing this service, the weightier part of which was probably there in tended. 2. In this place God seems to speak of the service in a general way; hence the age of twenty-five is fixed. 3. In David's time and afterwards, in the fixed tabernacle and temple, the laboriousness of the service no longer existed, and hence twenty years was the age appointed.*
Num. xxv. 9. "And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand." St. Paul reckons only twenty-three thousand; though some MSS. and versions, particularly the latter Syriac and the Armenian, have, as here, 24,000. Allowing the 24,000 to be genuine, and none of the Hebrew MSS. exhibit a various reading here, and the 23,000 of St. Paul to be also genuine, the two places may be reconciled by supposing, what is very probable, that Moses includes in the 24,000, the 1000 men who were slain in consequence of the judicial examination (v. 4.), as well as the 23,000 who died of the plague; while St. Paul only refers to the latter.*
Num. xxvi. 11. "Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not." It seems to be intimated in ch. 16. 27, 31-33, that not only the men, but the sons and the little ones of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram were swallowed up by the earthquake; but the text here expressly affirms, that the children of Korandied not;' and their descendants were famous even in David's time. On a close inspection, however, of verse 27 of the abovementioned chapter, we shall find that the sons and the little ones of Dathan and Abiram alone are mentioned. There is no mention of the children of Korah; they, therefore, probably either not consenting to their father's crime, or speedily repenting, were preserved when he was cut off; while it appears that those of Dathan and Abiram perished with their fathers.*
Num. xxxi. 3, 17, 18. " And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the Lord of Midian. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." It was God's quarrel, not their own, that they were now to take up. These people were idolaters, and had seduced the Israelites to practise the same abominations; idolatry is an offence against God; and the civil power has no authority to meddle with what belongs to Him, without especial directions, certified as in this case, in the most unequivocal manner. Private revenge, ambition, or avarice were to have no place in this business: Jehovah is to be avenged; and through Him, the children of Israel, (ver. 2.) because they were nearly ruined by their idolatries. If Jehovah, instead of punishing sinners by
earthquakes, pestilence, or famine, is pleased expressly to command any person or people to avenge his cause, this commission justifies, nay, sanctifies, war, massacre, or devastation. Though none can at present shew such a commission, yet the Israelites could; and it is therefore absurd to censure Moses, Joshua, and Israel, for the dreadful slaughter made by them. God himself passed sentence of condemnation, and employed them merely as ministers of his vengeance; and unless it could be proved that the criminals did not deserve their doom, or that God had no right to punish his rebellious creatures, such objectors only shew their enmity to God by becoming the unsolicited advocates of his enemies.*
The sword of war should spare women and children, as incapable of resisting; but the sword of justice knows no distinction, except that of guilty or not guilty, or more or less guilty. This was the execution of a righteous sentence upon a guilty nation, in which the women were the greatest criminals; and it may safely be said, that their lives were forfeited by their personal transgressions. With respect to the execution of the male infants, who cannot be supposed to have been guilty, God, the author and supporter of life, who has a right to dispose of it when and how he thinks proper, commanded it: and shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?'*
It has been groundlessly asserted, that Moses here authorised the Israelites to make concubines of the whole number of female children; and a formidable objection against his writings has been grounded upon this monstrous supposition. But the whole tenor of the law, and especially a statute recorded in Deut. 21. 10-14, proves most decisively to the contrary. They were merely permitted to possess them as female slaves, educating them in their families, and employing them as domestics; for the laws concerning fornication, concubinage, and marriage, were in fyll force, and prohibited an Israelite even from marrying a captive, without delays and previous formalities; and if he afterwards divorced her, he was to set her at liberty, because he had humbled her'.*
2 Sam. i. 6—10. compared with 1 Sam. xxxi. 3-6. The story of this young man appears to be wholly a fiction, formed for the purpose of ingratiating himself with David, as the next probable successor to the crown. There is no fact in the case, except the bringing of the diadem and bracelets of Saul, as a sufficient evidence of his death, which, as he appears to have been a plunderer of the slain, he seems to have stripped from the body of the unfortunate monarch. It is remarkable, that Saul, who had forfeited his crown by his disobedience and ill-timed clemency with respect to the Amalekites, should now have the insignia of royalty stripped from his person by one of those very people.*
In 2 Sam. xxiii. 13, we read, "And three of the THIRTY chiefs went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam : and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim, &c."
But by the enumeration, and from verse 39, we learn that instead of THIRTY they amount to "thirty and seven in all." From the number of these officers then being thirty-seven, it is almost self evident that obv, cannot denote the thirty, as rendered in verse 13, &c., but some particular description of men, or officers; for it can scarcely be said, with propriety, that we have thirty-seven out of thirty; and besides in the parallel place in 1 Chronicles there are sixteen added!* ww, should most probably be read, instead of shaloshim, thirty, shalishim, as it is in verse 8, and ch. 11. 11, and Exod. 14. 7, captains: where lxx. render rporaras, which Jerome (on Ezek. 33.) says among the Greeks is the name of the second rank after the royal dignity.*
2 Sam. xxiv. 9. "And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men." In the parallel place in Chronicles xxi. 5, 6, the men of Israel are said to be 1,100,000, and the men of Judah 470,000; to reconcile which, it has been observed, that the embodied troops of the Israelites were not reckoned here; and that, there being twelve companies of 24,000 each, and allowing to each 1,000 officers, the deficiency is exactly supplied. So to account for the deficiency in Judah, some are of opinion that the legionary soldiers are included in the one account and not in the other. It should, however, be observed, that the Syriac in Chronicles has 800,000, as in the parallel passage of Samuel.*
1 Kings v. 11. "And Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand measures of wheat for food to his household, and twenty measures of pure oil: thus gave Solomon to Hiram year by year." Twenty thousand baths of oil' are mentioned in Chronicles (ch. 2. 10); and the Syriac, Arabic, and Septuagint also have here twenty thousand measures.' But as barley and wine are also spoken of there, it is probable, that the wheat mentioned here, and the small quantity of fine oil, was intended for the use of Hiram's own family, while that in Chronicles was for his workmen.*
1 Kings 5. 16. "Beside the chief of Solomon's officers which were over the work, three thousand and three hundred, which ruled over the people that wrought in the work." In the parallel passage of Chronicles (ch. 2. 18), it is three thousand six hundred,' which is also the reading of the Septuagint here, and which is probably the true reading.*
1 Kings viii. 65, 66. "And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days. On the eighth day he sent the people away: and they blessed the king, and went unto their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people." In the parallel passage of Chronicles (ch. 7. 10), this is termed the three and twentieth day of the seventh month,'
* Comprehensive Bible, Note in loco.
that is, the ninth day of the dedication; which Jarchi reconciles by supposing that Solomon gave them leave to return on the eighth day, and many of them did then return; and that he dismissed the remainder on the ninth, or 23d of the seventh month.*
1 Kings xiii. 20-22. "And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back: And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the Lord, and hast not kept the commandment which the Lord thy God commanded thee, but camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the Lord did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcase shall not come unto the sepulchre of thy fathers." "A great clamour," says Dr. Kennicott, "has been raised against this part of history, on account of God's denouncing sentence on the true prophet by the mouth of the false prophet; but, if we examine with attention the original words here, they will be found to signify either, 'he who brought him back,' or, 'whom he had brought back ;' for the very same words, wwwx, asher heshivo, occur again, ver. 23, where they are now translated, 'whom he had brought back ;' and where they cannot be translated otherwise. This being the case, we are at liberty to consider the words of the Lord as delivered to the true prophet, thus brought back; and then the sentence is pronounced by God himself, calling to him out of heaven, as in Gen. 22. 11. And that this doom was thus pronounced by God, not by the false prophet, we are assured in ver. 26. 'The Lord hath delivered him unto the lion, according to the word of the Lord, which He spake unto him.' Josephus [and also the Arabic] asserts, that the sentence was declared by God to the true prophet." *
1 Kings xv. 6. "And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life." Instead of Rehoboam, fourteen MSS., the Arabic, and some copies of the Targum, read Abijam. The Syriac has, 'Abia, the son of Rehoboam;' and the Editio Princeps of the Vulgate has Abia. This is doubtless the true reading, as otherwise it would be an unnecessary repetition of ch. 14. 30, and a repetition which interrupts the history of Abijah. This then agrees with 2 Chr. 13. 3, &c.*
2 Kings xv. 23. "And there was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel all their days." That is, there was a constant spirit of hostility kept up between the two kingdoms, and no doubt frequent skirmishing between the bordering parties; but there was no open war till Baasha king of Israel began to build Ramah, which was, according to 2 Chr. 15. 19; 16. 1, in the thirty-sixth year of Asa; but according to ch. 16. 8, 9, Baasha was killed by Zimri in the twenty-sixth year of Asa, and consequently he could not make war upon him in the thirty-sixth year of his reign. Chronologers endeavour to reconcile this, by saying that the years should be reckoned, not from the beginning of Asa's reign, but, from the
separation of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. We must either adopt this mode of solution, or admit that there is a mistake in some of the numbers, probably in the parallel places in Chronicles, but which we have no direct means of correcting.*
1 Kings xvi. 8. "In the twenty and sixth year of Asa king of Judah began Elah the son of Baasha to reign over Israel in Tirzah, two years." Baasha began to reign in the third year of Asa, and reigned 24 years; yet he died and was succeeded by Elah in the 26th year of Asa; and, in like manner Elah, who began to reign in the 26th year of Asa, and was killed in the 27th, is said to have reigned two years. Thus it is evident that a part of a year is calculated as a whole year. In the Chinese annals, the whole year in which a king dies is ascribed to his reign, the years of the succeeding king being reckoned only from the beginning of the following year. Jackson's Chr. Ant. vol. II. p. 443.*
1 Kings xvi. 23. "In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah." As it is stated in verses 10 and 15, that Zimri began to reign in the 27th year of Asa; and as he reigned only seven days, and Omri immediately succeeded him, this could not be in the 31st, but in the 27th year of Asa. Jarchi, from Sedar Olam, reconciles this, by stating that Tibni and Omri began to reign jointly in the 27th year of Asa; and that Tibni dying about five years afterwards, Omri began to reign alone in the 31st year of Asa.*
1 Kings xviii. 1. "And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth." This form of after the third year,' i. e. Thus when Horace says, 'to be kept full nine Hence this statement
expression, both in Hebrew and Latin, means some time between the third and fourth year. Nonum prematur in annum, he means that it was years,' and not any space between eight and nine. agrees with that of our Lord (Luke 4. 25), and St. James (ch. 5. 17), who say that the drought lasted three years and six months; and the fact itself is attested by Menander, who, as cited by Josephus, says it happened in the time of Ithobalus, the father of Jezebel.*
2 Kings viii. 26. "Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel." In the parallel passage of Chronicles (ch. 22. 2), it is said, ' forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign;' but this is evidently a mistake, as it makes the son two years older than his own father! For, his father began to reign when he was thirty-two years old, and reigned eight years, and so died, being forty years old. See ver. 17. Twenty-two is doubtless then the true reading in Chronicles, and it is supported by several MSS. and Versions.*
• Comprehensive Bible, Note in loco.