Page images
PDF
EPUB

the versions, represent Moses to be the person here said to be in a great anger. The vulgar Latin is very faulty ; we there find the place rendered, erivit a Pharaone iratus nimis. He went out from Pharaoh too much angry.'? All the other versions represent him as exceedingly incensed against the king; but how can we suppose this of Moses, who was very meek, above all the men, which were upon the face of the earth. Besides that, it is hard to imagine he should carry himself so void of that regard and respect, which he must think it his duty to pay, in his behaviour to the king of Egypt in his own kingdom, Some of the commentators insinuate, that Moses was thus exceeding angry, and incensed against Pharaoh, because he was made a God unto Pharaoh.9 But how absurd must it be to imagine, that Moses should

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

P The critics imagine that the Latin word nimis is synonymous with valde ; and to signify very much, or exceedingly; but I think, that where it seems to be thus used, it always implies some excess: thus; non nimis me delectârunt litteræ illius. Cic. His letters delighted me not very much. I would translate it not over much. Fundam tibi nunc ninis vellem dari. Ter. I would very fain that you had a sling. I think it might be translated, I am over-earnest in wishing you a sling, i. e, more earnest than I need to be. For it was the flatterer's excess of care that wished the soldier this instrument; and by the word nimis, he seems nicely to hint that his valour did not need it. See Eunuch. act. iv. Scene 7.

Q Exod. vii. 1.
VOL. II.

Kk

[ocr errors]

receive any character from the Deity, which would justify him in rudeness and misbehaviour to a ruler of a kingdom? Certainly it was not Moses here, but Pharaoh who was in the passion. Moses undoubtedly delivered his message with all the weight and authority which the divine commission he had received required; and yet at the same time behaved himself with all the regard and respect which was due unto the king; and when he had delivered what he had to say, Ietzea menim Pharaoh bechari aph. The words, bechari aph, in a fury of anger, belong to Pharaoh, and not to Moses; and the place ought to be translated, he went out from Pharaoh, who was in a furious anger.

God had before this instructed Moses and Aaron, to direct the people to prepare the passover,' the getting all things ready for which took up near four days; for they were to begin on the tenth day of the month Abib, and to kill the lamb on the fourteenth

[ocr errors]

· The first verse of Chap. xii. does not imply that the Lord spake to Moses about the passover, after he came from Pharaoh, because these directions were given before he went; for he went to Pharaoh the day on which he told him, that at midnight God would slay the first-born, namely on the fourteenth of the month Abib, but these directions were given before the tenth day; for on that day they began to prepare for the passover. So that the former part of this chapter, is an account of some particulars which bad passed, but were not related historically in their place.

• Exodus xii. 3. .

day in the evening;' and accordingly on the fourteenth of Abib in the night the Israelites ate the first passover; and at midnight they heard a great cry and confusion amongst the Egyptians ; for Pharaoh and his princes, and his people, found that there was one person dead, and that the first-born, without any exception or difference in any one family, in every house of the Egyptians. They came immediately to Moses and Aaron in"a great fright, and terror, and desired them to get the people together, and take their flocks and their herds, and all that belonged to them, and be gone ; and the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste, for they said, we be all dead men.* Hereupon Moses took the bones of Joseph, which his brethren had sworn to him should be carried with them out of Egypt; and the Israelites began to journey in the morning, and on the morrow, after the passover, on the fifteenth day of the month, they travelled from Rameses to Succoth,' about ten or twelve miles. Here they made a stop, reviewed their company, and found that they were six hundred thousand, besides children. In this manner the Israelites were brought out of Egypt; a transaction so wonderful and extraordinary, that the heathen historians could not avoid taking some notice of it. Justin, the Epitomizer of Trogus Pompeius, gives us hints of it, in his account of the History of the Jewish Nation." He tells us, that some time after the birth of Moses, “The Egyptians had the leprosy amongst them ; that upon consulting their oracle for a cure, they were directed to send away, all the infected persons out of the land, under the conduct of Moses. Moses undertook the command of them, and at his leaving Egypt. stole away the Egyptian Sacra. The Egyptians pursued them, in order to recover their Sacra, but were compelled by storms to return home again. Moses in seven days passed the Desart of Arabia, and brought the people to Sinai.' This account is indeed short, imperfect, and full of mistakes ; but so are the heathen accounts of the Jews and their affairs. If the reader peruses the whole of what Justin says of the Jews, he will see that his account of them is all of a piece, and that he had made no true enquiry into their history. Ilowever, after all the mistakes, which either the misrepresentation of the Egyptian writers might cause, or the carelessness and want of examination of other historians occasion, thus much we may conclude from Justin to be on all hands agreed ; that the Jews were sent out of Egypt under the conduct of Moses, that the Egyptians might get free from plagues inflicted upon them by the divine hand; and that after they were dismissed the Egyptians pursued them, but were disappointed in their pursuit, not by force of arms, but by obstructions from providence, in the direction of storms and weather to defeat them.

u Ver. 7.

Ver. 33.

t Exod. xii. 6.
Y Num. Xxxiii. 3.

2 Exod. xii. 37.

K k 2

Justin. Hist. lib. xxxvi. cap. 2.

Justin hints so many points, which are so near the truth, in the several parts of the Jewish history, that I imagine, if due pains had been taken to examine, he would have given a truer account of this, and all the other particulars which he has hinted about them, and their affairs.

Justin relates, that the Jews at their departure stole the Egyptian Sacra. We say, they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment. If they borrowed them, we cannot say that they had any design of returning them again ; and therefore the injustice may be thought the same as if they stole them. Some modern writers have taken the greatest liberty of ridiculing this particular, and are pleased in thinking that it affords them a considerable objection against the sacred Scriptures. For they insinuate, with more than ordinary assurance, that no one can, consistently with plain and common honesty, which all men know too well to be deceived in, suppose that Gop ALMIGHTY directed, or ordered the Israelites to borrow in this manner. • The wit of the best poct, is not sufficient to reconcile us'to the retreat of a Moses, by the assistance of an Egyptian loan;' said Lord Shaftsbury, amongst other things, which he thought might bear hard against the morality of the sacred history. Some very judicious writers have endeavoured to justify the Israelites borrowing of the Egyptians; but I shall not offer any of their arguments, because I cannot find, that the sa

\ Exod. xii. 35.

« Charact. vol. 1, p. 358.

« PreviousContinue »