« ÎnapoiContinuați »
the unanimous testimony of the ancient Fathers, we may justly conclude, that if any history of former times deserves credit, the Acts of the Apostles ought to be received and credited; and, if the history of the Acts of the Apostles be true, Christianity cannot be false.*
2. Because the sacred writers neither could nor would deceive others.
(1.) They could not deceive others, for the facts and events were of such a nature as totally precluded imposition; such as the rivers being turned into blood, Exod. 7. 20-25; and as there is a singular propriety in this and the other plagues, I subjoin an account of each. As the Nile was held sacred by the Egyptians (Plutarch, Is. et Osir. p. 353. et Sympos. 1. viii. p. 729.) as well as the animals it contained, to which they annually sacrificed a girl, or as others say, both a boy and a girl, (Universal Hist. vol. i. p. 178, folio edit.) God might have designed this plague as a punishment for such idolatry and cruelty; and to shew them the baseness of those elements which they reverenced, and the insufficiency of the gods in which they trusted. All the punishments brought upon them bore a strict analogy to their crimes. See Bryant on the Plagues of Egypt, pp. 14— 27.†The water of Egypt,' says the Abbe Mascrier, 'is so delicious, that one would not wish the heat to be less, or to be delivered from the sensation of thirst. The Turks find it so exquisite, that they excite themselves to drink of it by eating salt. A person,' adds Mr. Harmer, (Observ. vol. iii. p. 564.) who never before heard of the deliciousness of the Nile water, and of the large quantities which on that account are drank of it, will, I am sure, find an energy in those words of Moses to PharaohThe Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river, (Ex. vii. 18.) which he never did before.t
The plague of frogs, Exod. viii. 1-15. DY, tzephardeîm, is evidently the same with the Arabic, zafda, Chaldaic, ¡¬¬, oordeánaya, and Syriacio), oordeai, all of which denote frogs, as almost all interpreters, both ancient and modern, agree to render it; probably so called, as Bochart conceives, from ¿zifa, a bank, and ¿ radá, mud, because of delighting in muddy and marshy places. From this circumstance, the frog has many of its epithets in the Batrachomyomachia of Homer. Whether the frog among the Egyptians was an object of reverence or abhorrence is uncertain. It might have been both at the same time, as many objects are known to have been among particular nations: for proof of which see the very learned Jacob Bryant, on the Plagues of Egypt, pp. 31-34. In some ancient writers we have examples of a similar plague. The Abderites, according to Orosius, and the inhabitants
* See the Commentaries of Drs. Dodd and Clarke, Dr. Benson's History of Christianity' vol. ii. pp. 333-341, and Horne's Introduction, vol. iv. pp. 306, 307. Comprehensive Bible, Concluding Remarks on Acts. See also Remarks on Matthew, John, &c. pp. 44-46, supra.
+ Comprehensive Bible, Notes in locis.
of Pæonia and Dardania, according to Athenæus, were obliged to abandon their country, on account of the vast number of frogs by which their land was infested. See Bochart, Hieroz. P. ii. 1. v. c. 2.*
The plague of lice, Exod. viii. 16, 17. 0, kinnim, is rendered by the LXX. σkides, okites, or okvnoɛs, and by the Vulgate, sciniphes, gnats; and Mr. Harmer supposes he has found out the true meaning in the word tarrentes, a species of worm. Bochart, however, (Hieroz. vol. i. c. 18.) seems to have proved that lice, and not gnats, are meant; because, 1. they sprang from the dust, and not from the waters; 2. they were on both man and beast, which cannot be said of gnats; 3. their name is derived from 2, koon, to make firm, fix, establish, which cannot agree with gnats, flies, &c. which are ever changing place, and almost constantly on the wing; 4. the term, kinnah, is used by the Talmudists to express the louse. If this animal be intended, it must have been a very dreadful and afflicting plague to the Egyptians, and especially to the priests, who were obliged to shave the hair off every part of their bodies, and to wear a single linen tunic, to prevent vermin harbouring about them. See Herodotus, 1. ii. c. 37, and Bryant, pp. 44-48.*
The plague of flies, Exod. viii. 20-24. The word y, árov, is rendered кvvoμvia, the dog-fly, by the LXX. (who are followed by the learned Bochart) which must have been particularly hateful to the Egyptians, because they held dogs in the highest veneration, under which form they worshiped Anubis.* It is supposed to be the same as is called in Abyssinia the zimb; which word, says Mr. Bruce, is Arabic, and signifies the fly in general. The Chaldee paraphrase is content with calling it simply zebub, which has the same general signification. The Ethiopic version calls it tsaltsalya, which is the true name of this particular fly in Geez. It is in size very little longer than a bee, of a thicker proportion, and its wings, which are broader, are placed separate like those of a fly. Its head is large; the upper jaw or lip is sharp, and has at the end of it a strong pointed hair, of about a quarter of an inch in length; the lower jaw has two of these hairs; and this pencil of hairs, joined together, makes a resistance to the finger, nearly equal to a strong bristle of a hog. Its legs are serrated on the inside, and the whole covered with brown hair or down. It has no sting, though it appears to be of the bee kind. As soon as this winged assassin appears, and its buzzing is heard, the cattle forsake their food, and run wildly about the plain, till they die, worn out with affright, fatigue, and pain. How intolerable a plague of flies can prove, is evident from the fact, that whole districts have been laid waste by them. Such was the fate of Myuns in Ionia, (Pausan. 1. vii.) and of Alarmæ. The inhabitants were forced to quit these cities, not being able to stand against the flies and gnats with which they were pestered. Trajan was obliged to raise the siege of a city in Arabia, before which he had sat down, being driven away by the swarms of these insects. (Dion Cas
sius, 1. lxviii. Ælian de Animal, 1. xi. c. 23.) Hence different people had deities whose office it was to defend them against flies. Among these may be reckoned Baalzebub, the fly-god of Ekron: Hercules muscarum abactor, Hercules, the expeller of flies; and hence Jupiter had the titles of απομυιος, μυιαγρος, μυιοχορος, because he was supposed to expel flies, and especially clear his temples of these insects. See Bryant, pp. 54-56.*
The murrain of beasts, Exod. ix. 1-7. We may observe a particular scope and meaning in this calamity, if we consider it in regard to the Egyptians, which would not have existed in regard to any other people.— They held in idolatrous reverence almost every animal, (Herod. 1. ii. c. 64. Porphyry, p. 372.); but some they held in particular veneration; as the ox, cow, and ram. Among these Apis and Mnevis are well known; the former being a sacred bull worshipped at Memphis, as the latter was at Heliopolis. A cow or heifer had the like honours at Momemphis; and the same practice seems to have been adopted in most of the Egyptian nomes. (Strabo, lib. xvii. Herodotus, lib. ii. c. 38.) By the infliction of this judgment, the Egyptian deities sunk before the God of the Hebrews. See Bryant, pp. 87-93.*
The plague of boils and blains, Exod. ix. 8, &c. where we read, that "the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it towards the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh," &c. This was a significant command; not only referring to the fiery furnace which was a type of the slavery of the Israelites, but to a cruel rite common among the Egyptians. They had several cities styled Typhonian, in which at particular seasons they sacrificed men; who were burnt alive, and the ashes of the victim were scattered upwards in the air, with the view, probably, that where any atom of dust was carried a blessing was entailed. The like, therefore was done by Moses, though with a different intention, and more certain effect. See Bryant, pp. 93—106.*
The plague of hail, Exod. ix. 21—26.—This must have been a circumstance of all others the most incredible to an Egyptian; for in Egypt there fell no rain, the want of which was supplied by dews, and the overflowing of the Nile. See Tibullus, 1. 1. Eleg. vii. v. 25; Mela, l. 1. c. 9; Plutarch, De facie in orbe lunæ, p. 939; Marcellinus, 1. xxii. c. 16; and Claudian, De Nilo, v. 5. The Egyptians must, therefore, have perceived themselves particularly aimed at in these fearful events, especially as they were very superstitious. There seems likewise a propriety in their being punished by fire and water, as they were guilty of the grossest idolatry towards these elements. Scarcely any thing could have distressed the Egyptians more than the destruction of the flax, as the whole nation wore linen garments. The ruin of their barley was equally fatal, both to their trade, and to their private advantage. See Bryant, pp. 108-117.* The plague of locusts, Exod. x. 1..6.-The word 7178, arbeh, locust,
• Comprehensive Bible, in locis.
is derived from 7, ravah, to multiply, be numerous, &c. because they are more prolific than any other animal, and because of the immense swarms of them by which different countries, especially the East, are infested. The locust, in entomology, belongs to a genus of insects known among naturalists by the name of grylli; which includes three species, crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts. The common great brown locust is about three inches in length; has two antennæ about an inch long, and two pair of wings. The head and horns are brown; the mouth and inside of the larger legs bluish; the upper side of the body and upper wings brown, the former spotted with black, and the latter with dusky spots. The back is defended by a shield of a greenish hue; the under wings are of a light brown, tinctured with green, and nearly transparent. It has a large open mouth; in the two jaws of which it has four teeth, which traverse each other like scissors, being calculated, from their mechanism, to gripe or cut. The general form and appearance of the insect is that of the grasshopper, so well known in this country. These fearful insects are described by both ancient and modern writers as being brought by one wind, and carried off by another, in such clouds, as to darken the sun; covering the earth, wherever they alight, many leagues round, and six or eight inches in depth; and devouring every thing with such rapidity, that fire itself eats not so fast; and winter instantly succeeds to the bright scenes of spring.** The quantity of these insects,' says Volney, (Travels, vol. i. p. 188) is incredible to all who have not themselves witnessed their astonishing numbers; the whole earth is covered with them for the space of several leagues. The noise they make in browsing on the trees and herbage may be heard at a great distance, and resembles that of an army in secret. The Tartars themselves are a less destructive enemy than these little animals. One would imagine that fire had followed their progress. Wherever their myriads spread, the verdure of the country disappears; trees and plants stripped of their leaves, and reduced to their naked boughs and stems, cause the dreary image of winter to succeed in an instant to the rich scenery of spring. When these clouds of locusts take their flight, to surmount any obstacles, or to traverse more rapidly a desert soil, the heavens may literally be said to be obscured by them.'+ Dr. Shaw, (Travels, p. 187) observes, that in Barbary in the month of June, the locusts are no sooner hatched, than they collect themselves into compact bodies, each a' furlong or more square; and marching directly afterwards, forwards directly towards the sea, they let nothing escape them, eating up every thing that is green or juicy, not only the lesser vegetables, but the vine likewise, the fig-tree, the pomegranate, the palm, and the apple-tree, even all the trees of the field.' 'In their progress,' says the same author, they kept their ranks like men of war;' climbing over every tree or wall that was in their way. Nay, they entered into our very houses and bedchambers, like so many thieves. Every effort of the inhabitants to stop
them was unavailing; the trenches they had dug were quickly filled up, and the fires they had kindled extinguished by infinite swarms succeeding each other. * The Egyptians had gods in whom they trusted to deliver them from these terrible invaders; but by this judgment they were taught that it was impossible to stand before Moses, the servant of Jehovah.See Bryant, pp. 118-140. †
The plague of palpable darkness, Exod. x. 21-23.-As the Egyptians not only worshipped the light and sun, but also paid the same veneration to night and darkness, nothing could be more apposite than this punishment of palpable and coercive darkness, such as their luminary Osiris could not dispel.—See Bryant, pp. 141—160.‡
The death of the first-born, Exod. xii. 29, 30.—The infliction of this judgment on the Egyptians was most equitable; because after their nation had been preserved by one of the Israelitish family, they had, contrary to all right, and in defiance of original stipulation, enslaved the people, to whom they had been so much indebted, had murdered their offspring, and made their bondage intolerable.-See Bryant, p. 160. No people were more remarkable and frantic in their mournings than the Egyptians. When a relative died, every one left the house, and the women, with their hair loose, and their bosoms bare, ran wild about the street. The men also, with their apparel equally disordered, kept them company; all shrieking, howling, and beating themselves.-See Diod. Sicul. 1. i.; Herod. 1. ii. c. 60, 85, 86; and Bryant, above cited. What a scene of horror and distress must now have presented itself, when there was not a family in Egypt where there was not one dead!
The miraculous passage of the Red Sea, Exod. xiv. 21—31.—The agency employed by the Lord, we are told in ver. 23, was “a strong east wind," which blew "all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided." Dr. E. D. Clarke, (Travels, vol. i. p. 324), states that ' a remarkable phenomenon occurs in the sea of Azof during violent east winds the sea retires in so singular a manner, that the people of Tanganrog are able to effect a passage upon dry land to the opposite coast, a distance of twenty versts, equal to fourteen miles: but when the wind changes, and this it sometimes does very suddenly, the waters return with such rapidity to their wonted bed, that many lives are lost. The depth here is five fathoms.' In ver. 22, it is expressly stated, that it formed a wall unto the Israelites on the right hand and left; which demonstrates, that this event was wholly miraculous; and cannot be ascribed, as some have supposed, to an extraordinary ebb, which happened just then to be produced by a strong east wind: for this would not have caused the waters, contrary to every law of fluids, to stand as a wall on the right hand and the left.
The pillar of cloud and fire which conducted the Israelites.—As the request of Moses to Hobab, Num. x. 29, has been thought inconsistent with this fact, I subjoin the following observations: As the Israelites were under the immediate direction of God himself, and were guided by the • Comprehensive Bible, note on Joel 2.7. + Idem, on Exod. 9. 13. i Idem, in locis.