Page images

proves, on the authority of ancient Jewish tradition, that Adam was 230 years old when he begat Seth (and not 130 as in our Hebrew text). Consequently, by the argument ex uno disce omnes, we conclude that the whole of the antepaidogonian ages are correctly given in the Septuagint, and that the true extent of the Antediluvian age is 2262 years.' The changes introduced are, for the most part, curiously systematic, as will be at once perceived by comparing the Hebrew with the Septuagint, in regard to the ages of the Antediluvians at the birth of each eldest son :

Hebrew. 130 105 90 70 65 162 65 187 182 Septuagint, 230 205 190 170 165 162 165 187 188

It will be seen that in six cases the difference is exactly 100 years, and the result is that, according to the Hebrew, the Antediluvian age is shortened by six centuries.

In the second or Postdiluvian age, the result is precisely similar, as will be perceived at a glance by arranging the ten descents, from the Flood to Abraham (Gen. xi. 10-27), in parallel columns. The figures show the age of each patriarch at the birth of his firstborn son-first, in the Hebrew, and second, in the Septuagint :

Hebrew,. 35 0 30 31 30 32 30 29 70 75 Septuagint, 135 130 130 131 130 132 130 79 70 75

Here, again, there appear clear indications of design; for in six cases out of the ten, the age of each patriarch at the date of his eldest son's birth is, in the Hebrew, precisely 100 years less than in the Septuagint. What is still more extraordinary, the Hebrew entirely omits the name of Cainan II., thereby shortening the chronology to the extent of 130 years, though the genuineness of the Septuagint is fully attested by St. Luke in his genealogy of our Lord (Luke iii. 36). Lastly, the following table shows the discrepancies of the two texts with regard to the whole lives of the ten Postdiluvian patriarchs :

Hebrew, . 438 0 433 464 239 239 230 148 205 175 Septuagint, 538 460 433 404 339 339 330 208 205 175

An important consideration in favour of the Septuagint chronology is that, according to it, the decrease in the duration of human life after the Flood is far more natural and progressive than in the Hebrew, which exhibits great leaps between the different terms of the progression. Leibnitz's celebrated rule, natura non agit per sallum, is nowhere more appli cable than here. There is a suitable proportion, moreover, in the Greek numbers, between the whole lives of the patriarchs (both before and after the Flood), and their ages at the birth of their eldest sons, which is wholly wanting in the Hebrew. In the period before the Flood, the average of the six antepaido. gonian ages is to the average of their entire lives in the ratio of 1 to 5 in the Greek, but only as 1 to 9 in the Hebrew. If these ratios be applied to the present average duration of human life, we find that, were the proportions

indicated by the Hebrew text to hold good, fathers would beget children at the age of eight years! but, according to the Greek, not sooner than at the age of fourteen. This argument grows in strength when we come to the Postdiluvian age; for there the Hebrew analogy would allow men now to become fathers at the age of seven, but the Septuagint not before the age of twenty-three.

Once more, the Hebrew text gives B.C. 2288 as the date of the universal Deluge, but the Septuagint B.C. 3216, or nearly a thousand years earlier. Now we cannot possibly accede the former as the true date, for we have the most indubitable monumental evidence to the contrary. Professor C. P. Smyth has shown, in his recently published Antiquity of Intellectual Man,' that the Great Pyramid of Jeezeh, the most ancient and stupendous of all existing monuments, was erected about the year B.C. 2170. Now, such a gigantic structure, on which, according to Herodotus, 100,000 men were engaged for 30 years could not possibly have been erected so early as 118 years after the Deluge, or (according to the same system of chronology) only 41 years after the dispersion of nations.

This Pyramid, moreover, in its unique and marvellous system of symbology, gives some very remarkable indications of the true date of the Deluge. These, as interpreted by the Scottish Astronomer-Royal, clearly point to a year close upon B.C. 2800 as the actual time of that grand catastrophe. The evidence, therefore, which this colossal monument supplies, while it confirms the general testimony of both the Hebrew text and the Septuagint, differs from each by only one-twelfth part of the whole time, either way-yet, precisely speaking, indicates a year that lies almost midway between the dates which they assign to that great era in the world's history. A doubt is consequently suggested, whether the chronology of the Septuagint has not, to some extent been tampered with, as well as that of the Hebrew, though in an opposite direction? We need scarcely inform our readers that many able chronologists, including Usher, Petavius, and Clinton, adduce many weighty arguments against the early chronology of the Greek Scriptures, without being in the least swayed by any evidence obtained from the Pyramid. At the same time, the Pyramid date of the Deluge approaches that of the Septuagint about a hundred years more closely than it does the date of the Hebrew text. Further investigations will, in all likelihood, confirm the testimony of this 'sign and wonder in the land of Egypt' (Jer. xxxii. 20), and render it more and more manifest that that unparalleled structure was intended from the beginning to be the grand standard for trying and correcting not only the confused metrologies of the nations, but also their equally vitiated chronologies.

Dr Richard Lepsius of Berlin, the most

learned and accomplished of all living Egypt. ologists, has proved by a rigid comparison of the existing monuments, that the duration of the Egyptian monarchy prior to the exodus of the Israelites (an event which he places B.C. 1314) was 1115 years. According to this computation, Memphis was founded B.C. 2429, a date entirely agreeing with the date of the Flood as given by the Septuagint, but wholly inconsistent with it as given by the Hebrew, by Usher, and by our received text. In this conclusion our own indefatigable William Osburn-whose varied learning and familiar acquaintance with the ancient monuments are not inferior to those of the illustrious German, and whose love of truth and reverence for the inspired record are immeasurably superior-substantially agrees (see his able and highly satisfactory treatise, entitled, 'The Monumental History of Egypt,' 2 vols.: London, Trübner & Co., 1854). He also agrees with Lepsius in believing that the first migration into Egypt took place not more than 120 years prior to the building of Memphis and the founding of the Egyptian monarchy. No great interval can have separated this migration from the date of the confusion of tongues, and the consequent dispersion of the nations-events which, therefore, we may safely reckon as having occurred about B C. 2550. Osburn further shows (i. 377) that the call of Abraham, or rather his visit to Egypt, which must have occurred very soon thereafter, took place in the reign of Pharaoh Achthoes, the 24th or 25th king of that country, about 566 years after the first peopling of the land, and 446 years after the building of Memphis. This would make the call of Abraham-that grand date at which all human history really commences-to have occurred about B C. 1984. According to Usher, Abraham left Haran, on his way to Canaan, B.C. 1921; Joseph was carried into Egypt in 1728; Jacob, with his family, settled in Goshen in 1706; and the exodus took place in 1491. These dates do not differ very widely

from those deduced from the monuments, which indicate that Abraham arrived in Egypt in the reign of Pharaoh Achthoes, of the 11th dynasty, about B.C. 1934; that Joseph was sold as a slave in the reign of Pharaoh Aphophis, a prince of the 16th dynasty, in 1791; that the immigration of the Israelites into the land took place in the reign of the same king, about 1769; and that they finally left the land in the reign of Sethos II. of the 19th dynasty, B.C. 1554. It thus appears that our received text is in perfect accordance with the monuments in assigning 430 years as the entire period between the giving of the promise to Abraham and the exit of his seed from the land of bondage. The two records are also in harmony in indicating that the 430 years are divided into two equal parts by the arrival of Jacob and his family in the Delta, each part having a duration of 215 years.

This result, especially when taken in connec tion with the above dates as they stand in the Septuagint, is of the greatest importance in fixing the chronology of the Old Testament, and in silencing the cavils of influential modern objectors. One serious difficulty, however, still remains a difficulty, indeed, which to many is all but insuperable. In Gen. xv. 13, God says to Abraham, 'Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them 400 years.


in the fourth generation they shall come hither again; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.' The actual time was 430 years (Ex. xii. 40, Gal. iii. 17), but the apparent discrepancy here is easily explained. The real difficulty is found in the words 'fourth generation. Most expositors assume that this means the fourth generation from Jacob; and they adduce texts to show that, in certain well-known pedigrees, three names only appear during the 215 years of the actual sojourn There can be no doubt, however, that the passage quoted speaks of the fourth generation from Abraham, and not from Jacob. But even admitting that these generations are to be counted from Jacob, we ask how it is possible that, in three descents, seventy persons could have expanded into 600,000 fighting men, besides women, children, and old men, amounting in the aggregate to at least 4,000,000 souls! The thing is utterly ab surd, and, in short, could not be. Besides, it was not the men of the fourth descent from Jacob that left Egypt in the days of Moses, but those of the twentieth descent, as is evident from 1 Chron. vii. 20-27. In this interesting passage we have the full details of the genealogy of Joshua, the son of Nun, who belongs to the nineteenth descent from Ephraim, the younger son of Joseph, The house of Joseph doubtless enjoyed many facilities for preserving their pedigree-facilities that were denied to the other tribes and hence we have all the links of the chain presented to our view; but about the same number of descents must have belonged to each of the other tribes, though, as is usual in such cases, only prominent per sons are mentioned in their pedigrees when they happen to be cited. This extremely important passage, then, enables us at once to see how, in the course of 215 years, so small a number could have increased to such a mighty host. But then, what becomes of the words, "in the fourth generation they shall come hither again"? We shall have no difliculty in explaining this; for generation does not always signify descent-as, for ex ample, Num. xxxii. 13, And the Lord's

anger was kindled against Israel, and be made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the Lord was consumed.' Here 'generation' means simply all the souls then living.' On account of Jehovah's dis

pleasure, the whole of the mighty host that left Egypt (above the age of twenty) were to perish in 40 years instead of 100 years, which would be the time required for all the adults then living to die a natural death. Let us take a simple illustration. In May, 1869, the Registrar-General of England estimated the population of the United Kingdom at 31,015,234. Some of these were infants of one hour's age, others were fully 100 years old; but in one hundred years hence, or a little more, not one person of those thirty-one millions will be alive; but fifty or sixty millions more will have come in their room. These, or some of them, will live another 100 years, and four such universal displacements will require 100 years, or four generations. The average life of man was much greater in the days of the patriarchs than now. Abraham lived 175 years, Isaac 180, Jacob 148, Joseph 110, Aaron 122, and Moses 120, and their mean age is 142 years. This is probably greatly above the general average of the men of their respective generations, for depravity shortens human life; yet we cannot suppose that it was less than 120 years. Four such generations would require 480 years. But the people actually entered Canaan 470 years after Abraham left it; and thus the word of the Lord was literally fulfilled. For this splendid result we are again mainly indebted to the admirable W. Osburn ( Monumental History of Egypt,' ii. 629), whose pious and learned labours cannot fail, ere long, to assume their proper place.

We cannot be expected here to discuss all the difficulties connected with New Testament chronology, for, however interesting in themselves, they are insignificant when compared with those we encountered under the last chapter. There the discrepancies sometimes amount. ed to several centuries, whereas here they usually embrace only a very few years. By far the most important is the true date of our Lord's birth. This is the central point of human history-the grand era from which all other events are counted by Christian nations. Hence this era-when the Word became flesh,' and when the Creator eternally allied Himself to the creature-is significantly termed the fulness of time.' But just as we cannot determine that point in past eternity when God called the physical universe into existence; or that point in past time when living creatures first peopled the earth; or that greatly more recent date when God created man in His own image; or, finally, that other point, still future, when an angel shall swear by Him that liveth for ever and ever that time shall be no longer;'-so also we cannot determine, at least with undoubted accuracy, the precise time when the Word became flesh, and when our ruined species became linked, by indissoluble bonds, to the Eternal.

Proceeding on the assumption that the scriptures of the Old Testament presented a

general history of the world from the earliest age, the Jews set the example of constructing therefrom a complete system of chronology. Aided, as they believed, by credible tradition, Ezra and later authorities in Palestine, and the Hellenistic Jews of Alexandria, applied themselves to the task. Working in two distant and unfriendly bodies, these learned men, who employed in their occupation all the skill of their day, produced results of a dissimilar kind, and so gave a proof that the materials which lay before them were not without difficulties. Hence, however, arose the marked difference, in regard to the ante. diluvian age, between the Palestinian or Hebrew, and the Alexandrine or Greek chronology. The former is found in the Bib'e and the Samaritan Pentateuch; the latter in the Septuagint. On the following page will be found the numbers, taken from Bunsen.

The New Testament writers - closely following the example of Moses-give us two distinct genealogies of our Lord (Matt. i. 1-16; Luke iii. 23-38), the one being his lineage through Joseph, his supposed father, and the other his real pedigree through Mary. These genealogies sufficiently determine the order of time in which the Desire of all nations' appeared, but they do not fix the precise year. As the genealogy given by Matthew was specially meant for Jewish readers, it begins with Abraham, their renowned ancestor; while that of Luke, whose main purpose was to show that Jesus is the kinsman of the entire race, is extended backward to Adam, who is emphatically styled the son of God.' Matthew appends a very curious summary to his genealogy, apparently for mnemonic purposes: So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.' This remarkable summary, besides being helpful to the memory, is eminently suggestive; for here the God of Israel is represented as marching gloriously through the ages in stately, measured steps, disposing at pleasure of all events in Israel's history, and, through Israel, of the fortunes of all mankind. It will be perceived that the passage does not refer to all past time, but simply to Israel's past; not to the five thousand years that bad already elapsed of human history, but to the two thousand years that had elapsed since God singled out one family from among all the families of our species to be a peculiar people unto Himself. Here God is seen descending from heaven to earth, and the precise spot which His feet first touch is UR OF THE CHALDEES, the native city of him who is, ere long, honoured with the appellation of the friend of God.' 'Arise,' said God, 'get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, unto a land that I will show thee;

[ocr errors]

and I will make of thee a great nation; and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and in thee and thy seed shall all families of the earth be blessed' (Gen. xii. 1-3). Subsequently he greatly enlarges this promise by adding, And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee and to thy seed after thee the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God' (Gen. xvii. 7, 8). These exceeding great and precious promises are afterwards solemnly confirmed by an oath, when Abraham by selfsacrificing obedience has demonstrated the vitality of his faith. And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven, the second time, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand

which is upon the sea-shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice' (Gen. xxii. 15-18). We give these passages at length, because they constitute Israel's titledeeds to the land out of which he has, for a time, been ejected, and because the time is approaching when the original charter will speak for itself.

The inspired apostle next sees the Ancient of days beginning to walk down, in solemn tread, athwart the centuries. His feet first meet the ground at HEBRON-where Abraham once purchased a field and a cave in which to deposit the sacred remains of his beloved Sarah, thus affording to his posterity a new ground of hope that at a future day they would obtain possession of the entire land -and at the moment that the man after God's own heart is being crowned king of the covenant people. This stupendous step embraces a period of 866 years, or, according to the authentic pedigree from which the apostle is quoting, it embraced fourteen generations'

[blocks in formation]

of men (including events till then unparalleled in the world's history), and terminated with the full establishment of the Israelite kingdom, and the erection of the Temple where the God of Israel dwelt among them after the manner of an earthly sovereign. The next step spans the entire period of the kingdom-embracing 467 years, or fourteen generations Jehovah's foot is seen to rest on the rivers of Bablyon,' where captive Judah, the last of the tribes of expatriated Israel, sits on the ground weeping, with her harp hung up on the willows, remembering Zion, and refusing to be comforted (Ps. cxxxvii. 2).

[ocr errors]


One step more, and the Eternal plants his foot on the most interesting point of the earth's surface, and at the moment when the most memorable event in the world's annals is being enacted-even when the Eternal Son, now incarnate, lies a little babe in the manger at BETHLEHEM, and when an angel is heard proclaiming, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.' The event is not merely of infinite importance to Israel and to all people,' but it necessitates a grand jubilee in the realms of glory; for 'suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.' This, truly, is the divine fruit of that wondrous tree which, ages before, Jehovah had planted, but which has not yet produced its destined fruit.

Here the Almighty pauses, as if to contemplate the glory yet to be revealed that eternal revenue of glory which He will infallibly derive from this unparalleled event. Assuredly, however, though He pauses, He does not mean to halt. His face is still steadfastly directed towards the future, and we are led confidently to expect that He will take as many steps more as He has already taken. Indeed we cannot but anticipate that His future steps shall, like all His past, be both measured and majestic; and that they shall, in the same way, correspond with the critical junctures in Israel's future. The two millenniums He has already traversed consisted, as we have seen, of three great periods, commencing respectively with Abraham, David, and the Captivity; and doubtless three other periods, not less eventful, have yet to be traversed ere all God's purposes regarding his covenant people shall have been consummated. The Cross of Christ stands in the centre of all the ages. The three former periods terminated there; and there must the three periods that follow begin. Not only does St. Matthew suggest this in his famous mnemonic sentence (for mnemonic it is, in the highest sense of the term), but near the end of his Gospel (Matt. xxiv. 3.41) he shows how the Lord Himself, as He sat on the Mount of Olives, and immedi

[ocr errors]

ately before His last sufferings, filled up St. Matthew's outline with details of the most momentous character. St. Luke in the first chapter of the Acts, St. Paul in his two epistles to the Thessalonians, and especially St. John in that wonderful 'Revelation which so appropriately closes the canon of Scripture (particularly chap. xx.), furnish us with many further particulars. In short, all the writers of the New Testament agree in assigning to the portion of Israel's history then future THREE GRAND PERIODS, which, on account of their main characteristics, we may denominate the Period of the Dispersion, the Period of the Kingdom, and the Period of Consummation, after which time shall cease and the eternal ages begin."

Both sides of this question are attended with great difficulties, and the editor would not be understood as giving judgment either way. The most important epoch from which years are reckoned, is the Christian Era, or the era of the Incarnation, which is universally employed in Christian countries, and is even used by some eastern nations. The commencement of this era is the 1st of January, in the fourth year of the 191th Olympiad, the 754th from the foundation of Rome. So did the Abbot Dionysius Exiguus fix it in the 6th century. There is reason to think, from the most careful consideration of historical data, that this is four years too late. And, also, that the season of the year when Christ was born has been wrongly fixed.

TIMOTHY, in the Greek Timotheus (God's honour), the son of a Greek and a converted Jewess of good repute, by name Eunice (Acts xvi. 1. 2 Tim. i. 5), by whom he had from childhood been instructed in the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. iii. 15), and in consequence was prepared to receive the gospel from the lips of Paul. Born in Lycaonia, and probably at Derbe (or Lystra, Acts xvi. 1; xx. 4), Timothy may have become a Christian on occasion of Paul's first visit to that place (Acts xiv. 20, 21), but certainly owed to the apostle his conversion (1 Tim. i. 2. 1 Cor. iv. 17); and when the latter visited Derbe a second time, he, in order not to offend the prejudices of the Jews, who held that the only way into the Christian church lay through the temple, caused Timothy to be circumcised before he associated him with himself as a fellow-labourer in the gospel (Acts xvi. 3). Having thus, by circumcision and laying on of hands (1 Tim. iv. 14; vi. 12. 2 Tim. i. 6), been appointed to the work, Timothy went forth with Paul to proclaim the glad tidings, passing (52 A.D.) through Troas into Macedonia. When Paul went thence to Athens, Timothy remained at Berea (Acts xvii. 10, 14), whence he was commanded by the apostle to come to him at Athens (15). Either before he could obey this order, or after he had reached that city, Timothy was sent to Thessalonica

« PreviousContinue »