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A. M. 2108. A. C. 1897; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 3398. A. C. 2013. Gen. CH. xx-xxv. 11. of the forces, judge, and high priest, according to that and yet his express declaration is, that Melchizedek known verse in 'Virgil, “ Anius, both king of men and 3 was king of Solyma, which is now called Jerusalem. priest of Apollo.” So that, in short, from any thing It is the much more probable opinion, therefore, that that
appears in history, we bave no reason to think that this palace was built by Jeroboam, when he repaired until some ages after Homer, mankind had any other Salem, and that the inhabitants (possibly the Samaritans) public ministers in religion but those who were the kings in after ages, either devised or promoted a false tradiand governors of the state.
tion, that it originally belonged to Melchizedek. For There were indeed, in ancient times, many little the general consent of the ancients give it clearly for islands and small tracts of land where civil government Jerusalem, as duly considering that Abraham's route, in was not set up in form; but the inhabitants lived returning from the territories of Damascus to Hebron, together in peace and quiet, under the direction of some was directly through its coasts, (whereas the other Saleni eminent person, who ruled them by wise admonitions, lay devious to the north,) and that there was a kind of and by instructing them in the great principles of reli- propriety in the mystery, and what the analogy of the gion; and the governors of these countries affected a to thing seemed to require, that Melchizedek should be be called priests rather than kings. But if, at any time, king of that very place in which the true Prince of Peace they and their people came to form a political society, (whereof he was a type and representation) was in future upon more express terms and conditions, then we find ages to make his appearance. these sort of persons called both priests and kings. Who this Melchizedek was, is still an hard question
These stnall states, indeed, could have but little power that has puzzled most interpreters. The author to the to support themselves against the encroachment of their Hebrews indeed has recorded a description of him ; but neighbours. Their religion was their greatest strength: this is so far from giving us any light, that it has, in a and therefore it was their happiest circumstance that great measure, been the occasion of leading some into a their kings or governors were reputed sacred by their persuasion, that the person here called Melchizedek neighbours, and so highly favoured by God for their was an angel ; others, that he was the Son of God; and great and singular piety, that it was thought a dangerous others, that he was the Holy Ghost, in the shape and thing to violate their rights, or injure the people under appearance of man; because they cannot conceive how their protection.
the qualities ascribed to this excellent personage can Such a king as this was the great Melchizedek, who comport with any human creature. The phrase, however, came out to congratulate the patriarch Abraham : and it made use of by the apostle, diyeyeahóyntos, without is no bad conjecture of some, that he was called the descent, or without genealogy, explains what the apostle king of Salem, not so much upon account of Salem's means by, “ without father, and without mother,' that is, being the proper name of any determinate place, the without any father or mother mentioned in the genealoseat of his dominion, as that in general it signified gies of Moses, where the parents of all pious worthies peace; and that therefore Melchizedek was the king are generally set down with great exactness: ' so that of peace,' or 'the peaceable king ;' because the sacred there being no genealogy at all of Melchizedek recorded ness of his character secured him from being invaded in Scripture, he is introduced at once ; even like a man by his neighbours, and his wise administration kept all dropped down from heaven, for so the description goes things in good order, so that he was never molested by on, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life,'
that is, in the history of Moses, which (contrary to its This
, however, is no more than a conjecture; because common usage when it makes mention of great men) it is certain that there were two places in Palestine takes no notice at all of the time either of his birth or which went under that name ; the one, the same with death; and herein " he is made like unto the Son of God," that which was afterwards called Jerusalem, and the that is, by the history of Moses, which mentions him other, a town lying upon the banks of the river Jordan, appearing and acting upon the stage, without either not far from the place ? where John (our Saviour's entrance or exit, as if, like the Son of God, he had forerunner) is said to have baptized. Here formerly abode a priest continually. were seen the ruins of the palace of this Melchizedek,
This is the common, and the best approved interprewhich in the time of St Jerome, as he tells us, discovered the niagnificence of its structure ; and, upon that father's
Antiquities, b. 1. c. 11.
* Heidegger's Hist: Patriarch. vol. 1. Essay 2. authority, several modern authors have gone into the 5 See Calmet's and Saurin's Dissert. on Melchizedek. Heiopinion that this place was the metropolis of that prince. degger's Hist. Patriarch, vol. 2. But since that city, even according to the testimony of
From the times of Epiphanius there were names invented the same St Jerome, was quite demolished by Abime- for the father and mother of Melchizedek. To his father was lech , it is hardly conceivable how such remarkable given the name of Heraclas, or Heracles ; to his mother that of
Astaroth, or Astaria.- Calmet's Dictionary, remains should be of so long continuance, and yet ? Scott's Christian Life, part 2. c. 7. escape the observation of Josephus, who was no undili- c The learned Heidegger, in my opinion, has taken the right gent inquirer into the antiquities of the Jewish nation; method to explain this difficult passage of St Paul to the Hebrews.
He supposes (as there really is) a twofold Melchizedek, the one
historical, whereof Moses gives us an account in the 14th chapter Æn, iii, v. 80. ? John iji. 22.
of Genesis, as that he was the king as well as priest of Jerusaa Thus Jethro is called by Moses, not the king, but the lem; the other
allegorical, whom St Paul describes in the words priest of Midian; and thus Chryses, the priest of Apollo at now under consideration, and this allegorical person is Christ. Chrysa, and not the king of Chrysa, though both he and Jethro The word Melchizedek, simply considered, means the king of were the governors of the countries where they lived.-Shuck righteousness; and from this sense of the word, in its appellativo ford's Connection, vol. 2. b. 6.
acceptation, and the remembrance of this person's being a priest
A. M. 2108. A. C. 1897 ; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A, M. 3398. A. C. 2013. GEN. CH. XX-XXV. 11. tation of the apostle's words ; but still the question payment of his titbes? And much less can we believe. returns upon us, to whom can this character, even with that one of his ill character was the type of the blessed this comment, belong.
Jesus. Jesus, indeed, himself, if he be taken for MelThe Jews are generally of opinion, and herein are chizedek, appearing to Abraham in an human shape, (as followed by some Christians, that Melchizedek was the he is often supposed to do in Scripture,) will answer all same with Shem, one of the sons of Noah, whom they the character which the apostle gives of this extraordisuppose alive in the days of Abraham, the only person nary person : but then the wonder is, that the historian upon earth, say they, who could, with justice, be called should never give us the least intimation of this ; that his superior, and whom the description of the apostle Abraham should express no manner of surprise upon such could, in any tolerable manner, befit, as being a person an interview; and (what is more) how the type and the of many singularities, born before the deluge, having antitype can possibly be represented the same. For no ancestors then alive, and whose life had been of an this is the case : here Melchizedec was a representaimmense duration in comparison of those who came after tive of our Saviour, according to that of the apostle, him. But not to dispute the fact, whether Shem was Jesus was a priest after the order of Melchizedek, at that time alive or no, it seems very incongruous to which he explains in another place, 'after the similitude think that Moses, who all along mentions him in his of Melchizedek there ariseth another priest;' as much proper naine, should, upon this occasion, disguise his as to say, Melchizedek and Christ were like one anosense with a fictitious one ; and very incompatible it is ther in several things, and thereupon one was designed with what we know of Shem, that he should be said to be to be a fit type of the other ; but as it is unreasonable
without father,' and without mother,' when his family and absurd to say, that a person is like himself, so we is so plainly recorded in Scripture, and all his progeni- cannot rationally imagine that Christ, who, as St Paul tors may, in a moment, be traced to their fountain-head says, was after the similitude of Melchizedek,' was in in Adam. Besides, had Melchizedek and Shem been reality the same person with him. the same person, the apostle would hardly have made Thus we have looked into a some of the chief conjechim of a family different from Abraham, much less would tures concerning this great man, which seem to have any he have set him in such an eminence above the patriarch, plausibility in them; and after all must content ourselves or thereupon broke out into this exclamation concerning with what the Scriptures nakedly report of him, namely, him :- Consider how great this man was, unto whom that this Melchizedek was both a king and a priest (for even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of his spoils! these two offices were anciently united) in the land of
These arguments seem to evince, that Melchizedek Palestine, in the city of Jerusalem, descended, not and Shem were different persons; and much more reason improbably, from wicked and idolatrous parents, but have we to suppose that he and Ham, that wicked son of Noah, were so. For who, upon deliberate thoughts, can
? Edward's Survey of Religion, vol. 1. believe, that this cursed person was the priest of the most high God, from whom Abraham so joyfully received would supply matter for a whole volume, even though one should
a The sole question concerning the person of Melchizedek the sacerdotal benediction, that he returned it with the do no more than recite the catalogue of the different opinions to
which it has given rise, and the reason upon which each conjec· Bochart's Phaleg. b. 2. c. 1.
turer has endeavoured to establish his own. The Melchizedek
ians, a sect in the early times of the church, maintained that he as well as a king, the apostle took occasion to draw the compari- was a certain divine power superior to Christ; Hieraxes the son between him and Christ, in order to show the pre-eminence Egyptian, that he was the Holy Ghost, because compared to the of the Christian above the Aaronical priesthood; and what he Son of God; the Samaritans, and many Jews, that he was Shem, ascribes to the historical Melchizedek, upon this account, is the son of Noah; M. Jurieu, (in his Hist. Critique des Dogmer
, only to be understood in an imperfect and improper sense, that is &c. b. 1.) of late, that he was Ham, another son of his; Origen
, really and literally true only in the person of Christ. The apostle that he was an angel; Athanasius, that he was the son of Melchi
, was minded, in short, to illustrate his argument with some com- the grandson of Salaad ; Patricides, that he was the son of Phaleg; parison; and writing at this time to the Jews, (who were well Irenæus, that he was king of Jerusalem; St Jerome, that he was acquainted with this allegorical way of arguing, he could meet king of Salem in Scythopolis; and a certain anonymous author, with none, in the whole compass of iteir law, so commodious for that he was a man immediately created by God, as was Adam. this purpose, as this
Melchizedek; and therefore as Christ, the And because he is said to have had no relations, some have given heavenly Melchizedek, was without father, without mother, out, that the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them all without descent here on earth, in respect of his divinity, having up; whilst others, because he is said to have no end of life, supa neither beginning of days, nor end of life;" so the like properties pose that he was translated,
and is now with Enoch and Elias
, may, in some measure, be applied to the earthly Melchizedek; in a state of paradise. Heidegger's Hist. Patriar. vol. 2. Essay forasmuch as, in the book of Genesis, wherein all great men's 2. But all these opinions are at present reduced to these two: genealogies are supposed to be recorded, there is no mention whether this Melchizedek was a mere mortal man, or the Son made, either of his birth, family, or death; only he was invested of God in human shape ; which the reader may find supported with a royal priesthood, which assimilates him to Christ. He with arguments on both sides, in both Saurin's and Calmet's had a father and mother, no doubt, and was born, and died like dissertations upon this subject. other men; but because these things are not related by Moses, 6 Those who make him to be the son of Melchi, an idolatrous the apostle looks upon them as though they had never been: so that king, and of a queen named Salem, have an ancient tradition
, the whole hinge of comparison turns upon the silence of the that Melchi, having resolved to offer a sacrifice to his gods, sent sacred historian, who, in a book (wherein it might be expected his son Melchizedek to fetch him seven calves, that he might otherwise) makes no manner of mention, either of the beginning sacrifice them; but that, as he was going, he was enlightened by or ending of Melchizedek's life or priesthood ; and it is for this God, and immediately returned to his father to remonstrate to him reason, that he who wrote by the guidance of the blessed Spirit the vanity of idols. His father in wrath sent him back to fetch was directed to conceal these matters; that, in this situation, this the victims, and while he was gone, offered up to his gods kis same Melchizedek might be a more proper type of so sublime a own son, who was the elder brother of Melchizedek, with a thing as that of the priesthood of Jesus Christ. - Hist. Patriar. great number of other children. Melchizedek returning, and vol. 2. Essay 2.
conceiving a great horror at this butchery, retired to mouth
A. M. 2108. A. C. 1897; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 3398. A. C. 2013. GEN. CH. xxxv. 11. bimself a person of singular virtue and piety, 'the priest | unaccountable branches of his character) ‘he will be a of the most high God,' but perhaps the first and the wild man,' or a man like 'a wild ass ;' this (from the last of his race who was so, which might give occasion known properties of that creature) several interpreters to the apostle to describe him under such ambiguous have resolved into these qualities,-fierce and cruel, terms : for the whole of these (according to the judgment loving solitude, and hating confinement of any kind. of a learned author) o may not improperly be reduced to How far this part of the character was verified in this single proposition, that Melchizedek was the most Ishmael, who lived in the wilderness, and became an illustrious of his family, and had neither predecessor nor expert archer, his very condition of life shows us; and successor in his employ.
how properly it belongs to his posterity, the Arabians, We readily grant indeed, that there is something very who in every nation have very justly obtained the strange and uncommon in the prophecy relating to appellation of wild, a small inspection into history will Ishmael; but the question is not concerning the singu- informn us. larity, but the reality rather, of the matters contained in To this very day (as modern travellers inforın us) it. If these are explicable in themselves, and upon great numbers of them live in the deserts, and wander examination found to be true, then is the prophecy so about from place to place, without any certain habitation, far from losing its credit upon the account of its strange- They neither plough the ground, nor apply themselves Dess, that for this very reason it demonstrates its divine to any kind of husbandry, though there are several fruitorigin; because nothing but an omniscient mind could ful places in the wilderness that would repay their pains. foresee things so strange and unaccountable; and nothing Their whole occupation (besides spoiling their neighbut an almighty power and providence could bring these bours) lies in hunting and killing wild beasts, in which things to pass, and make the event exactly agree with there are but few that make use of fire-arms. The much the prediction.
greater part of them make use of the bow, and do herein Now, in order to explain the prophecy itself, and thence imitate their great, progenitor, that they are the most to observe how perfectly it has all along been fulfilled, exquisite archers in the world. it must be remembered, that (according to the known Before the introduction of Mahometanism, they were style of the Old Testament) what is here said of Ishmael as vagrant in their lust, and as little restrained in the use must be chiefly understood of his descendants, in the of females, as the brutal herd : and even now, they take same manner as what Jacob predicts of Judah and the as many wives as do the 'Turks, that is, as many as they rest of his sons, was to relate to their posterity, and be can keep, whom they purchase of their parents, use with indeed the characteristic of their several tribes. And indifference, and dismiss at pleasure. They rove about therefore (to take notice of two of the most odd and like the fiercest beasts of prey, seeking continually whom
they may devour ; insomuch that the governor of Grand Outram de Sacrificiis.
2 Gen. xlix.
Cairo is forced to keep a guard of four thousand horseTabor, where he lived for seven years without clothes, and
men every night on the side of the city next the wilderwithout any other food but wild fruits, or any other drink but the dew that he sucked up from the plants ; till at length Abraham, ness, to secure it against their incursions. Nor is the by the direction of God, went up to the mount, found out Mel wilderness only the scene of their depredations. They chizadek, clothed him, and brought him down with him. But rove all over the southern and eastern seas, visit every those who would have him be the son of Phaleg, relate a still creek, and coast, and island, and (as the * historian stranger story, namely, that Noah, upon his deathbed, charged kis son Seth to take Melchizedek, the son of Phaleg, with him, compares them) come sousing like a hawk, with incredible and go to a place which the angel of the Lord should show them, swiftness, upon their prey, and are gone again in an and there bury the body of Adam, which he had preserved in the instant. And as they have always thus preyed upon ark during the flood: that in that place Melchizedek should fix mankind, the necessary consequence is, that they have bis habitation, lead a single life, and entirely addict himself to the practice of piety, because God had made choice of him for his always been at variance and hostility with them; and priest, but allowed him not to shed the blood of any animal, nor therein have made good the other branch of Ishmael's to offer any other oblation to him, but that of bread and wiue character, ‘His hand shall be against every man, and only; that Seth and Melchizedek did as Noah had enjoined them, every man's hand against him.' and buried Adam in the place which the angel pointed out;
There is not the least hint in Scripture, nor any manupon their parting, Melchizedek betook himself to the monastic course of life which Noah had prescribed him; but that twelve
ner of reason to believe, that Ishmael dwelt in a personal weighbouring kings, hearing of his fame, and desirous of his state of hostility with his brethren ; nor is it conceivable acquaintance, consulted together, and built a city, whereof they how he could have maintained himself against their united constituted liim king and governor, and, in honour to his merit, called it Jerusalem. See Selden de Jure Nat. b. 3. c. 2.; and forces, had he so done ; and therefore this prediction Heidegger's Hist. Patriar, vol. 2. Essay.
can not otherwise be understood, than as it relates to his . The same learned author, who makes the Melchizedek posterity, the Arabians. Now, that any one nation should spoken of in Scripture, in one sense to be historical, and in be of so singular and perverse a character, as to set another allegorical, defines the historical in these words.
" He 25 a real and mere man, descended from Adam and Noah, by and live in perpetual professed enmity with all mankind;
themselves in open opposition to the rest of the world, his son Ham and grandson Canaan—a king of Jerusalem, priest of the true God, regenerated and sanctified by the grace common and that they should continue to do so, not for one age to all the faithful--- sealed up both to a happy resurrection and an or two only, but for four thousand years together, is eternal life.” And the allegorical in these of St Paul, — Who was king of righteousness and peace, without father, without mother, surely the strangest and most astonishing prediction that „without descent, a priest abiding continually and having a testi
ever was read or heard of. And yet, if we attend a little mony of no end of life. All which kings as we have affirmed, to the history of these people, (as soon as history takes says he, agree with Melchizedek in a more minute and allegorical sense, but more emphatically and really correspond with * See Rauwolf's Travels, part 2. c. 3. Bruce's Travels, Clark's, Christ." — Hist. Patriar, vol. 2. Essay 2.
Lord Valeutia's, &e.
· Ammianus Marcellinus.
A. M. 2108. A. C. 1897; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 3398. A. C. 2013. GEN. CH. XX.-Xv. 11. notice of them,) we shall find, in several instances, a full | Hagarenes should stand out still against the Romans, accomplishment of it.
when all the rest about them had yielded, besieged their When Alexander and his victorious army overran a city, though it was but a small one, twice, and was great part of the east, the Arabians, (as we are told by twice repulsed with shame and great slaughter of his Arrian and Strabo,) of all the Asiatics, were the only men. In the second assault, indeed, he beat down people who sent him no ambassador, nor made any sub- some of their city wall, and thereupon sounded a retreat, mission to him; which indignity he intended to have in hopes that they would have capitulated, and surrenrevenged in a particular expedition against them, but dered up the hidden treasure, supposed to be consecrated was prevented by death.
to the sun. But when they continued resolute a whole What Alexander intended, Antigonus, the greatest day, without giving any intimations of a treaty for a of his successors, attempted; but he was repulsed with peace, on the morning following the Roman army was disgrace, and the loss of above 8000 men; and when quite intimidated. The Europeans, who were gallant enraged at this repulse, he made a second attempt upon men before, refused to enter the breach; and the them with a number of select men, under the command Syrians, who were forced to undertake that service, had of his valiant son Demetrius, the resistance he met with a grievous repulse. Whereupon the emperor, b without was so obstinate, that he was forced to compound the making any fresh attack, decamped from before the matter, and leave them in the quiet possession of their city, and departed to Palestine. Thus God delivered liberty and peace.
the city, says Dio, recalling the soldiers by Severus, When the Romans and Parthians were rivals for the when they might have entered, and restraining Severus empire of the east, the Arabians joined, and opposed the second day by the soldiers' backwardness. each nation as they thought fit, but were never entirely There are only these two things more, which we may devoted to either; for their character always was, that observe from our historian, worthy our notice upon this they were fickle, if not faithless friends, and fierce occasion. The first is, that the Arabians stood single, enemies, who might be repulsed, and repressed for a in this their extremity, against the whole Roman power; season, but could never be totally vanquished or subdued. for none of their neighbours would assist them. The
Men of this character soo became the objects of the other thing is, that the emperor had soldiers of all Roman enmity and ambition, which could endure nothing nations in his army; for “ whereas other emperors," that was free and independent; and accordingly several says our author, “ were contented with guards of four attempts were set on foot by Pompey, Crassus, and other different European countries, Severus filled the city great generals, in order to enslave them ; but all proved with a mixed multitude of soldiers of all kinds, savage successless : and though they are sometimes said to have to look on, frightful to hear, and rude and wild to conbeen defeated, yet is there no account that we can verse with.” So that, considering all things, I think properly depend on, until we come to the expedition we may fairly conclude, that every man's hand was at which Trajan is known to have made against them. this time against Ishmael, and his hand, his only hand, * Trajan was certainly a long experienced and suc- against every man; and yet he dwelt, and still dwelleth
, cessful warrior. He had subdued the German, humbled in the presence of all his brethren: for, not long after the Parthian, and reduced already one part of Arabia this, it is very well known that the Ishmaelites joined into a province; and yet, when he came to besiege the the Goths against the Romans, and having afterwards city of the Hagarenes, upon every assault « his soldiers overcome both, C under the name of Saracens, they were so annoyed with whirlwinds and hail, and so fright-erected a vast empire upon their ruins; and thus Ishened with thunder and lightning, and other apparitions mael, in the full extent of the prophecy, became a in the air, (whilst their meat was spoiled and corrupted great nation.' with flies, even as they were eating it,) that he was forced to give over the siege, and was not long after seized with
Ammianus Marcellinus. a disease, whereof he died.
b The historian tells us farther, that after the breach was About eight years after this, the emperor Severus, a made, the conquest of the city was deemed so easy, that a cervery valiant and prosperous warrior, whom Herodian tain captain of the army undertook to do it himself, if he might makes no scruple to prefer even before Cæsar, Marius, have but 550 European soldiers assigned him. But where shall
we find so many soldiers ? says the emperor, meaning it of the and Sylla, disdaining, as Trajan had done, that the disobedience of the army, to which he imputed his not carrying
that place. But now, how a commander, who was at once See Dr Jackson on the Creed. * Dio, Hist. b. 68. beloved and revered, almost to adoration, by his soldiers, could
* Revelation Examined, vol. 2. Dissertation 4. not, with all his authority, influence them to assault, when they a The above recited author, from whom I have compiled this were in a manner at his mercy, this can be nowise reconciled, account, assures his reader, that he had, with all the care he without the supposition of that mighty Being occasioning it
, could, examined all the accounts of Arabia that came in his way, who poureth,' when he pleases, contempt upon princes, and to see whether the phenomena and calamities here mentioned by bringeth their counsels to nought.' Dio to have distressed the Roman army were frequent in that c The Ishmaelites, as some imagine, upon the reproaches of region, and that he had never been able to meet with any instance the Jews, who upbraided them with bastardy, became ashamed of one of them, except sometimes storms of wind. If hail, of their old names, derived from Hagar and Ishmael
, which frightful appearances in the air, and food infested with flies, were carried an odium in the sound, and took upon them the name of ordinary calamities in this region, all the accounts of the caravans Saracens, desiring to be accounted as the descendants of Abrathat travel through the deserts would necessarily be full of them; ham by his wife Sarah; but what destroys this etymology whereas it is notorious, that the best writers who have left us this, that the ancients called them Sara kenoi, and not Surt faithful diaries of these affairs, do not so much as mention any of noi, as they must have been called, if their name had been them; and therefore they must certainly have proceeded from a derived from Sarah; and therefore the learned Scaliger supposes divine interposition in favour of the Hagarenes, in accomplishment the word to come from the Arabic word sarack, which siguifies of the prediction concerning Ishmael and his posterity. to steal or plunder.-. Calmet's Dictionary.
A. M. 2108. A. C. 1897; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 3398. a. C. 2013. GEN. CH. XX-XXV. II. Circumcision is the cutting off the foreskin of the merely for the attainment of an end which could as fully member which in every male is the instrument of gene- and perfectly have been accomplished without it. ration; and whoever considers the nature of this opera- There is a passage, indeed, in the same Herodotus, tion, painful if not indecent in those of maturity, and to wherein he tells us, “That the Colchians, the Egypsuch as live in hot countries highly inconvenient, if not tians, and the Ethiopians, were the only nations that dangerous; a an operation wherein we can perceive no circumcised from the beginning, and that the Syrians footsteps of human invention, as having no foundation and Phænicians, who lived in Palestine, acknowledged either in reason, or nature, or necessity, or the interest they borrowed that rite from them." But here the of any particular set of men, we must needs conclude, historian is less to be blamed for having run into this that mankind could never have put such a severity upon error, since the Egyptians were a people naturally so themselves, unless they had been enjoined and directed vain and conceited of their antiquity, that they chose to it by a divine command. Nay, this single instance rather to impose upon him by a false information (for of Abraham, who, at the advanced age of ninety-nine, all this account he had but from information) than conunderwent this hazardous operation, and the very inde- fess that they received circumcision from any other cency of it in a man of his years and dignity; these two people. In the other part of the story, it is manifest considerations are in the place of ten thousand proofs, that they did impose upon him, when they told him that that it was forced upon him ; but nothing but the irresis- the inhabitants of Palestine, whom he calls Syrians and tible authority of God could be a force sufficient, in Phænicians, confessed that they received circumcision those circumstances. So that the strangeness and sin- from them; whereas there were no inhabitants in Palesgularity of this ordinance is so far from being an argu- tine circumcised but the Jews, and these always proment against it, that it is an evident proof of its divine fessed to have received it directly from Abraham, institution; and what was originally instituted by God * Herodotus, indeed, in all his writings, has shown cannot, in strictness, be accounted immodest, though that he was a great stranger to the affairs of the Jews, we perhaps may have some such conception of it, since and much more to the history of the patriarchs, who so 1 unto the pure all things are pure, but unto them that long preceded the institution of their republic. What are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, but even he tells us of the origin of circumcision, namely, that it their mind and conscience is defiled.'
was among the Egyptians from the beginning, is in a The Egyptians indeed, * Herodotus informs us, loose and vagrant expression accidently dropt from pretended to practise this rite, from no other principle him, or rather contrived on purpose to conceal his but that of cleanliness; and possibly, at that time, they ignorance of the matter : whereas Moses, who was long might so far have lost the memorial of its true origin as before him, knew the history of the patriarchs, and partinot to retain any other reason for their observation of it. cularly that of Abraham ; and therefore he does not conBut since it is evident, to a demonstration, that they tent himself with popular or fabulous reports, or endeanight, to all intents and purposes, be as clean without vour to conceal his meaning under indefinite and general this rite as with it, it is absurd to suppose that any man of expressions, but marks out the particular period, and common sense should undergo pain, and hazard himself, gives us a plain and full account both of the causes and and force the same inconveniences upon his posterity, circumstances of the whole institution. The truth is,
there is no comparison between the two historians in "Tit, i. 15.
- B. 2.
this particular ; and therefore, if we will credit the & The manner of this ceremony's being performed, whether sacred penman, in a point wherein his knowledge could in the public synagogue or in private houses, is this:-The hardly be defective, so far were the Egyptians from person who is appointed to be the godfather sits down upon a prescribing to the Hebrews, in the rite of circumcision, seat, with a silk cushion provided for that purpose, and settles the child in a proper posture on his knees, when he who is to that when Abraham was in Egypt, there was no such circumcise him (which, by the bye, is accounted a great honour custom then in use. among the Jews) opens the blankets. Some make use of silver It was twenty years after his return from that country tweezers, to take up so much of the prepuce as they design to that God enjoined him the rite of circumcision; and cut off, but others take it up with their fingers.. Then he who then it is said, that “Abraham took Ishmael his son, cireurocises the child, holding the razor in his hand, says, "Blessed be thou, O Lord, who hast commanded us to be cir- and all that were born in his house, and all that were cumcised;" and while he is saying this, cuts off the thick skin bought with his money, and circumcised the flesh of of the prepuce, and then, with his thumb nails, lears off a finer their foreskin.' Now it is evident, that when he came skin still remaining. After this he sucks the blood, which out of Egypt he brought men-servants and maid-servants flows plentifully upon this occasion, and spits it out into a cup with him in abundance ; and therefore, unless we can full of wine; then he puts some dragon's blood upon the wound, some coral powder, and other things to stop the bleeding, and so suppose that all these Egyptian men-servants died covers up the part affected. When this is done, he takes up the within twenty years, when the ordinary period of life cup wherein he had spit the blood, moistens his lips therewith,
was at least an hundred ; or that, when they died, none and then blessing both that and the child, gives him the name which his father had appointed, and at the same time pronounces of them left any male issue behind them ; we cannot but these words of Ezekiel, I said unto thee, when thou wast in conclude, that circumcision was not known in Egypt in thy blood, live,' Ezek. xvi. 6.; after which the whole congrega- Abraham's time, because it is expressly said, that tion repeats the 128th Psalm, Blessed is every man that feareth every male among the men of Abraham's house was observe, that besides the seat appointed for the godfather, there circumcised' at the same time that he was, which could is always another left empty, and is designed, some say, for the never have been, had they undergone that operation prophet Elias, who, as they imagine, is invisibly present at all before. circumcisions.-Calmet's Dictionary, under the word Circum
Basnage's llistory of the Jews. Gen. xvii. 11, 25, 27.