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A. M. 2108. A. C. 1897; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 3398. A. C. 2013. GEN. CH. xx-xxv. II. At what time the rite of circumcision obtained in delays, God would certainly, by one means or other, Egypt, is not so easy a matter to determine : there is a effectually make good his promises. The like may be passage, however, in the prophet Jeremiah, which, if said of the cominand of circumcision. God did not only taken in a literal sense, is far from encouraging any defer, for the space of twenty whole years, the birth of high pretensions to antiquity : \'Behold the days.come, that son, who was so solemnly promised, and so impasaith the Lord, that I will punish all them that are cir- tiently desired, but even when that time was expired, cumcised with the uncircumcised; Egypt, and Judah, and Abraham might now justly hope to see the promise , and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab,&c., accomplished, and his faith crowned, God was pleased for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house to cross it again, by requiring of him the performance of Israel are uncircumcised in their heart—the plain of an act, which, in all appearance, would be a total sense of which word is this, that God would visit the house defeat to all his hopes. For this injunction, 'My coveof Israel like strange nations ; because, as the latter were nant shall be in your flesh,' to a man of advanced age, uncircumcised in the flesh, so the former were in the seems as opposite to the promise of having a son, as that heart. Not but that, in the days of Jeremiah, the rite of other of taking his son, his only son Isaac, and offering circumcision was known and practised among the Egyp- him up for a burnt-sacrifice,' was to the promise of his tians, as well as among other nations; but then it was being the father of a numerous posterity. not so common and general, nor was it at all used any But Abraham's faith triumphed over this, as well as all where till long after Abraham's days.
other obstacles. He immediately performed the operaOne probable opinion therefore is, that the Arabians tion, notwithstanding its oddness, its danger, its seeming received it from the Ishmaelites ; that the Egyptians indecency, and the apparent opposition it had to the received it from the Arabians, or perhaps from Abra- divine promises ; and it is to preserve the remembrance ham's children by Keturah ; and that from the Egyptians of the faith of their great ancestor, who, in so many the people of Colchis, knowing themselves to be of discouraging circumstances,' waited patiently on God, Egyptian extract, embraced it, in imitation of their illus- and against hope believed in hope,' (as the apostle extrious ancestors. But even suppose that this custom was presses it,) that God prescribed to the Jewish nation the not established in Egypt by the posterity either of Hagar sacrament of circumcision. For this was a farther end or Keturah; yet why might not Joseph, in the course of of its institution, not only to be a mark of distinction a most absolute ministry for fourscore years together, be between the posterity of Abraham and all other nations, able to introduce it? ? It is the practice, we know, nay, but a token likewise of God's covenant made with him, it is the pride of slaves, to imitate their master's manners, and his posterity, and a note of commemoration to put especially if he seems solicitous to have them do so; those who bore it continually in mind whose offspring and therefore we need not doubt, but that, upon the least they were, and what advantages entitled to upon that intimation of his pleasure, the Egyptians would readily account, provided they took care not to degenerate from embrace the religious rites of so great, so wise, so the glories of that stock from whence they sprang. powerful a minister, who had preserved every one of And indeed, considering that Abraham was the first their lives, who had saved the whole kingdom from ruin, we read of whom God rescued from the general corrupand was himself so visibly and so remarkably guided by tion of faith and manners, which the world had now a the Spirit of God. But whensoever, or from whomsoever second time relapsed into ; and considering, withal, that it was, that the Egyptians learned this rite, it is certain, this person and his posterity were singled out for a that the reason of its institution was not with them the chosen generation, the repository of truth, and the recepsame that it was among the Jews ; and therefore the tacle of God incarnate ; there was reason in abundance, circumcision itself must not be accounted the same. why this remembrance should be very grateful to them;
Whoever looks into the life of Abraham, will soon and apt enough, it is plain, upon all occasions, they perceive, that God did all along design him for a pattern were to value themselves, and despise others, upon the of faith and perfect obedience to all succeeding genera- account of so particular an honour
. * But the misfortune tions. 3 The more his faith was tried, the more illustrious was, the most useful part of the reflection, namely, the it became, and the more obstacles there were raised in eminent faith and ready obedience of so renowned an the accomplishment of the divine promises, the more the ancestor, and the noble emulation of his virtues, which good patriarch showed (in surmounting these obstacles) such a pattern ought to have inspired ; this they were too the high conception he had entertained of him from whom apt to overlook, though any considering man (as the these promises came. For after a promise of a numerous apostle : excellently argues) could not but perceive that posterity, why was it so long before he gave him any son the only valuable relation to Abraham is not that of conat all? After the birth of Ishmael, why so long before sanguinity and natural descent, but the resemblance of the promise of an heir by his wife Sarah ? And after his virtues, and claiming under him as the father of the that promise was given, who so long, even till the thing faithful.' was impossible, in the ordinary course of nature, before And this suggests another, and indeed none of the the promise was accomplished, and the child sent? All least considerable ends for which circumcision was instithis was to exercise his faith, and to give him an oppor- tuted, namely, to be a sign of inward virtue, and to tunity of showing to the world, how fully he was con- figure out to us some particular dispositions of mind vinced, that, notwithstanding all these impediments and which bore resemblance to the outward ceremony, and
were required to render it effectual; for which reason it Jer. ix. 25, 26. * Revelation Examined, vol. 2. Dissertation 4. 3 Saurin's Dissertation 15.
* Stanhope on the Epistles and Gospels. s Roni, iv. il.
A. M. 2108. A. C. 1897; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 3398. A. C. 2013. GEN, CH. XX-xxv. 11. is that we read so much in the old law 16 of circumcis- slaughter in their camp ; I cannot see, why a person of ing the foreskin of the heart,' and hear the apostle so that consummate wisdom, and so highly favoured by God frequently telling us in the new, 2 of putting off the body with extraordinary monitions upon all remarkable emerof the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;' gencies, as Abraham was, might not, by God's advice, 36 for he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly, neither is make use of some such stratagem as Gideon did, though that circumcision which is outward in the flesh : but he is the Scripture is herein silent, that the success might be a Jew who is one inwardly: and circumcision is that of imputed to the operation of faith in him, and not to the the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise agency of second causes, or what some call the chance is not of men, but of God.'
It may seem a little strange at first, perhaps, that Of what age Isaac was, when Abraham was ordered to Abrabam, whose course of life was retired and philoso- offer him up, is nowhere declared in Scripture. The phical, should all on a sudden commence so great a opinion of some learned Jews, that he was but twelve warrior, as to be able to defeat four kings at once, and years old, is ridiculous ; since at that age, it would have their victorious armies, with a small number of his been impossible for him to have carried such a load of dorestics, and some assistance that was given him by wood, as was requisite upon that occasion; and others his neighbours. His own men were 318; and what force run into a contrary extreme, by supposing that he was his confederates, the three Phænician princes, brought to then seven and thirty years of age, which must have been kis assistance, we do not find mentioned. We may pro- the year wherein his mother died; and yet she is said to bably enough suppose, that they did not exceed his own have been alive when this transaction bappened. Josedomestics; but then we are not obliged to affirm, that he phus indeed makes him five and twenty, and some fell upon the whole body of the Assyrian army with this Christian (both ancient and modern) commentators supsnall retinue. This certainly would have been too bold pose that he was past thirty; but whatever his age might an attempt for the little company which he commanded; be, it is acknowledged, that he was capable of making and therefore the more likely supposition is, that coming resistance, and would certainly have done it, had he not up with thein by night, he divided his men into two or been very well satisfied that the command came from three parties, the better to make a diversion, and conceal God. To this purpose the a Jewish historian introduces his strength; that with one party himself might attack the Abraham as making a very tender and pathetic speech headquarters of king Chedorlaomer, where the chief to his son ; inspiring him with a just contempt of life; feasting and revelling was kept for joy of their late vic- and exhorting him to a due submission to the divine tories; that with another he inight fall upon those who order and decree ; to all which Isaac attended, says our were appointed to guard the captives and the spoil; and author, with a constancy and resignation becoming the with a third might be beating up other quarters ; 80 son of such a father : and upon this their mutual behavi. that the Assyrians, being fatigued in their late battle, our, 6 a very elegant father of the Greek church has made surprised at finding a new enemy, and not knowing what this beautiful reflection :-“ All the strength of reluctant their number or strength might be, or where their princi- love could not withhold the father's hands; and all the pal attack was to begin, might endeavour to save them- horror of a dissolution could not tempt the son to move selves by flight ; which Abraham perceiving, might take for his own preservation. Which of the two, shall we the advantage of their fright, and pursue them, until he say, deserves the precedence in our wonder and venehad made himself master of the prisoners and the spoil, ration? For there seems to be a religious emulation or and then retire himself, as not thinking it advisable to contest between them, which should most remarkably follow them until the daylight might discover the weak- signalize himself; the father, in loving God more than ness of his forces.
All this might well enough be done by a common Gregor. Nyss. De Deitate Fil. et Spirit. Sanct. p. 908. stratagem in war, without any miraculous interposition a The words wherein Josephus makes Abraham address his of providence : but it is much more likely, that the same son upon this occasion are these :-“My dear son, thou hast God, who in after ages instructed one of his posterity, been the child of my prayers to me, and since thy coming into
the world, I have spared for nothing in thy nurture and educaeven with such avother little handful of men, not only to tion. There is not any happiness I have more wished for, than break an army of about 200,000 or 300,000, but to kill of to see thee settled in a consummated state of age and reason; and them upon the spot, no fewer than 120,000 ; to disperse whenever God shall take me to himself, to leave thee in possesat least as many more; to vanquish after this à party of sion of my authority and dominions. But since it has been the
will of God, first to bestow thee upon me, and now to call thee 15,000 that had retired in a body; and at last to take all back again, my dear son, acquit thyself generously under so pious the four kings, who were the leaders of this numerous, a necessity. It is to God that thou art dedicated and delivered or rather numberless army; ' it is much more likely, í up on this occasion, and it is the same God that now requires say, that the God of Abraham would not be wanting to thee of me, in return for all the blessings and favours he hath his servant in his counsels and suggestions upon this to the law of nature, for every one that is born, to die; and a
showered down upon us, both in war and peace. It is agreeable important occasion; and if a party of 300 men, under more glorious end thou canst never have, than to fall by the hand the conduct of a person every way inferior to Abraham, of thy own father, a sacrifice to the God and Father of the uniwas by a stratagem in the night, and by the help of a verse, who hath rather chosen to receive thy soul into a blessed sudden panic which God injected, enabled to defeat than to suffer thee to be taken away in sickness, war, passion, or
eternity, upon the wings of prayer and ardent ejaculations, four mighty princes, and to make such a prodigious any other of the common chances of mankind. Consider it well,
and thou wilt find, that in that heavenly station, to which thou Deut, x. 16. ? Col. ii. I), * Rom. ii. 28, 29. art now called, thou mayest make thyself the support of thy aged Judges, at the 7th and 8th chapters.
father, and that instead of my son Isaac, I shall have God himn. * Bibliotheca Biblica, vol. 1. Occasional Annotations, 19. self for my guardian."-Antiquities, b. 1. c. 14,
A. M, 2108. A. C. 1896; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 3398. A. C. 2013. GEN. CH. XX-XXV. II. his own child, and the son, in the love of duty above his which is found in this tract of ground now, was the own life.”
effect of divine vengeance, and showered down upon This is a gallant instance of a profound submission to it, when God destroyed Sodom, and its neighbouring the divine will ; and yet (not to detract from the merit of cities. They therefore suppose, that the woman stand. it) if we consider the matter coolly, it was no more than ing still too long to behold the destruction of her what many martyrs, even under the Jewish economy, country, some of that dreadful shower, in the manner equally have performed. They have given themselves of great flakes of snow, fell upon ber, and clinging to up, in testimony of their love to God, to deaths as cruel her body, wrapped it all over, as it were in a sheet of as terrible, as this which Isaac was to suffer : 1. They nitrosulphureous matter, which congealed into a crust were stoned, were sawed asunder, were tortured ; and as hard as a stone, and made her appear like a statue yet they accepted not deliverance, that they might inherit or pillar of a metallic salt, having her body enclosed, a joyful resurrection.'
and, as it were, candied all over with it. And to main. The metamorphosis of Lot's wife is one of the most tain this their hypothesis, they assert, that all indurated wonderful events in Scripture ; and therefore those who bodies (as chemists well know) are, as they speak, are unwilling, as they say, to multiply miracles without highly saturated with a saline principle, and all coagua cause, from the different senses which the words in the lations and concretions, in the mixture of bodies, are text are capable of, have endeavoured to affix another effected by this means : so that it was not possible to interpretation to them. Thus the word which we render express such a transmutation as Lot's wife underwent, pillar, or statue, besides its obvious signification, may, whether it was simply by incrustation, or by a total in a metaphorical sense, be applied to denote any thing penetration, more properly than Moses has done. They that, like a pillar or stone, is immoveable and hard ; and produce instances from the best historians of several according to this acceptation, these interpreters suppose petrifactions, both of men and cattle, (almost as wonthat Moses might intend no more than that Lot's wife derful as this of Lot's wife,) standing in the very same was struck dead with fear or surprise, or any other cause, posture wherein they were found at the instant of their and so remain motionless, like a stone.
transmutation, for several generations afterwards ; and, In like manner, 2 the word which we render salt, be- for the confirmation of this in particular, they vouch the sides its common signification, does sometimes denote a testimony of the author of the book of Wisdom, who dry and barren soil, such as is found about the asphaltic makes mention of a standing pillar of salt, as a monulake ; and thus the sense of the words, applied to Lot's ment of an unbelieving soul, and the authority of the wife, intimates, that the place of her death was in a bar- Seventy interpreters, who expressly render it so. Among ren country, or in a land of salt. At other times it Jewish writers, they cite the words of Josephus, who signifies a long space, or continuance of time, because tells us, that Lot's wife, casting her eye perpetually back we find an everlasting covenant called a covenant of upon the city, and being too much concerned about it, salt, (salt being therefore an emblem of eternity, because contrary to what God had forbidden her, was turned into the things that are seasoned therewith continue incorrupt a pillar of salt, which I myself (as he tells us) have seen. for many years,) and in this sense Lot's wife may be They cite the words of Philo, who frequently takes notice said to become an everlasting monument of the divine of this metamorphosis, and, in his allegories of the law displeasure, without any consideration either of the form more particularly, declares, that for the love of Sodom, or matter whereinto she was changed ; and from these Lot's wife was turned into a stone. And among Chrissignifications of the words, they draw this explication of tian writers, they produce that passage of Clemens, in the passage :-“ That Lot's wife, either looking back his epistle to the Corinthians ; "Lot's wife went along upon the city when she saw it all in smoke, and fire from with him, but being of a different spirit, and not persistheaven pouring down upon it, was struck dead with the ing in concord with him, she was therefore placed for a frightful sight, in a country that was afterwards barren sign, and continues a statue of salt to this very day;' and unfruitful : or that, not only stopping, but returning together with the testimony of Irenæus, and several other towards the city, (when the angel was gone,) she was fathers of the church. suffocated by some poisonous vapour, and perished in The accounts which modern historians and travellers the common conflagration.” And this, as they say, give us of this matter are so very different and uncertain, saves a miracle, and answers the end of providence full that we cannot so well tell where to fix our belief. as well as if the woman had actually been turned into a Bochart, in his description of the Holy Land, tells us, pillar of salt, which never was, and never will be proved that he gave himself the fatigue of a very troublesome by any authentic testimony.
journey to behold this statue, but was not so happy as All this is plausible enough; and yet those who adhere to the literal sense of the words, have this to
• Antiq. b. 1. c. 12. say in their vindication—That the vale of Siddim, not take the salt here mentioned for common salt, which water
a Most of the interpreters have observed to us, that we must where Sodom, and the other cities stood; was originally soon dissolves, and could not possibly continue long, being exa very fruitful soil, (as most bituminous countries are,) posed to the wind and rain; but for metallic salt, which was which induced Lot to make choice of it for the pasturage hewn out of the rock like marble, and made use of in building of his cattle ; but is at present the very reverse, a poor Miscell.
vol. 1. and Pliny, b. 31. c. 7, tell us, that in Africa, at
houses, according to the testimony of several authors. Watsius, barren land, full of sulphur and salt-pits : and hence far from Utica, there are vast heaps of salt, like mountains, which, they infer, that all the sulphureous and saline matter, when once hardened by the sun and moon, cannot be dissolved
with rain or any other liquor, nor penetrated with any kind of Heb. xi. 35, 37. See Le Clerc's Dissert, in locum. instrument made with iron.—Heidegger's Hist. Patriar. vel. * Numb. xviii. 19. * Deut. xxix. 23.
2. Essay 8.
A. M. 2108. A. C. 1896; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 3398. A. C. 2013. GEN. CH. XX-Xxv. ll. to satisfy his curiosity; for the inhabitants assured him of persons struck with lightning, and killed with cold the place was inaccessible, and could not be visited vapours, that have immediately petrified in the same without apparent danger of death, because of the prodi- manner. gious beasts and serpents that abounded there, but more Why she was turned into a body of salt rather than especially, because of the Biduini, a very savage and any other substance, is only resolvable into the good inbuman sort of people, that dwelt near it; and yet, if pleasure of God. The conjectures of Jewish writers upon we will believe other writers of this kind, they will tell this head, we acknowledge, are trifling ; nor are we us expressly, that there is some part of it remaining, and responsible for the reveries of such Christian commentato be seen between Engaddi and the Dead Sea.
tors as would crowd in a multitude of palpable absurdi. We will suppose however for once, that the long ties, merely to make the miracle more portentous : but duration of this monument is an imposition of the inba- why God exacted so severe a penalty for an offence so bitants upon the credulity of strangers; yet it will not seemingly small, is not so hard to be resolved ; because, therefore follow, that there never was any such thing in according to the light wherein we are to consider this being, unless we can think it inconsistent with the nature woman, her disobedience to the divine command had in of God to work a miracle for the punishment of a wicked it all the malignity of an obstinate and perverse mind, woman. Miracles indeed are not to be multiplied, unthankful to God for his preservation of her, and too unless there be occasion for them; but when the plain closely attached, if not to the wicked customs, at least sense of the words leads us to such a construction, it is a to the persons and things which she had left behind her niceness, I think, no way commendable, to endeavour in that sink of sin and sensuality. to find out another, merely for the sake of avoiding the But there is another observation which we may draw' miraculousness of the fact; as if the Scriptures were from our Saviour's application of this story, as well as : more valuable for containing nothing but obvious matters, the angel's expression to Lot, namely, that she loitered by and the majesty of God any way magnified by seeming the way, if not returned to the city; and if so, it is no to exert as little of its omnipotent power as possible. wonder that she suffered when she was found within the
The short of the matter is this,—We have a clear compass of the sulphureous streams from heaven; nor account in a book full of wonders, of a woman confes- can God be blamed for his exemplary punishment of her, sedly guilty of disobedience and ingratitude, struck dead unless we think it reasonable for his providence, in this by the hand of God, and turned into a statue of salt, for case, to have interposed, and wrought a miracle for her a monument of terror to future generations. And is there preservation, who had so little deserved it, and had run any thing in this so repugnant to reason, or so incongru- herself voluntarily into the jaws of destruction. ous for God to do, that we must immediately fly to Thus we have endeavoured to vindicate the character another interpretation, and to make the matter easy, of the patriarch Abraham, and to account for several resolutely maintain that the whole purport of the thing transactions and passages in Scripture, which seem to is only this,–That the poor woman either suddenly died give umbrage to infidelity during the compass of his life. of a fright, or indiscreetly fell into the fire ? God certainly And for the confirmation of all this, we might now may work a miracle when he pleases, and punish any produce the testimony of profane authors, and make it wicked person in what manner he thinks fit; nor is there appear, that Abraham's fame for a just, virtuous, and any more wonder in the metamorphosis of Lot's wife, religious man, is spoken of by Berosus in a fragment than there was in changing the rod of Moses into a ser preserved' by Josephus : that his being born in Ur of the pent. The same power might do both; and since the Chaldees, his removal into Canaan, and afterwards same history has recorded both, there is the same reason sojourning in Egypt, is related by Eupolemus, as he is for the credibility of both. Nay, of the two, the trans- quoted by Eusebius : that the captivity of his nephew formation of Lot's wife seems more familiar to our con- Lot, his victory over the four kings, and honourable ceptions, a since we want not instances, as I said before, reception by Melchizedek, king of the sacred city of
Argarize, and priest of God, are recorded by the same a Bisselius (in his Argon. Americ. b. 14. c. 2.) has a very author : that his marrying two wives, one an Egyptian, remarkable story to this purpose. He tells us, that Badicus Almagris, who was the first man that ever marched an army by whom he had a son, who was the father of twelve over the mountains between Peru and Chili, by the extremity of kings in Arabia, and the other a woman of his own kinthe cold, and unwholesomeness of the air, lost in that expedition dred, by whom he had likewise one son, whose name in a great many men. Being obliged, however, some few months Greek was rémws, which answers exactly to the Hebrew after, to retum the same way, what the historian tells us upon word Isaac ; and that this Isaac he was commanded to this occasion is very wonderful. The horsemen and infantry, who five months ago were frozen to death, were still standing sacrifice, but when he was going to kill him, was stopped untouched, incorrupted, in the same condition and shape that by an angel, and offered a ram in his stead; all this is they were in when they were laid hold of by the sudden grasp of related by Antipanus, as he is quoted by the same death, one lay flat with his face on the ground, another stood erect, a third seemed to shake the bridle, which he still retained Eusebius : that the ancient custom of circumcision is in his hand. In a word, he found them exactly as he left them; taken notice of by Herodotus, Diodorus, Strabo, and they had no fulsome odour, and their colour was altogether others : that the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, and different from that of corpses. In fine, unless that the soul had been long ago in another world, they were in other respects more
I Luke xvii. 31, 32.
? Gen, xix. 22. like the living than the dead. To the like purpose it is related by Aventinus (Annot. Bavar, b. 7.), a credible historian, that in
Antiq. b. 1. c. 8.
* Præpar. Evang. b. 9. c. 17. his time above fifty country people, with their cows and calves,
• Præpar. Evang. b. 9. c. 18. * Hug. Grot. de Veritate. in Carinthia, were all destroyed at once by a strong suffocating statues, such as that of Lot's wife, which he tells us were seen exhalation, which immediately after an earthquake (in the year both by himself and by the chancellor of Austria.-Bibliotheca 1348) ascended out of the earth, and reduced them to saline | Biblica, vol. 1. Occasional Annotations, 22.
A. M. 2108. A. C. 1896; OR, ACCORDING TO HALES, A. M. 3398. A. C. 2013. GEN. CH, XX--XXv. 11. the strange waste it has made in a once most beautiful blackness of the soil, and its being turned into dust and country, is described by Strabo, Tacitus, and Solinus : ashes, is a sure token of its having suffered by fire from that Isaac's being born to a father when old, and to a heaven; and if we may believe the report, of a late tramother incapable of conception, gave occasion of the veller, according to the account which he had from the story of the miraculous birth of Orion, by the help of the inhabitants themselves, some of the ruins of these ancient gods, even when his father Hyreus had no wife at all : cities do still appear whenever the water is low and that Lot's kind reception of the two angels in Sodom, shallow. his protecting them from the insults of the people, and What the number of these cities were, is a matter escaping thereupon the destruction that befell them, are wherein we can have no absolute certainty. . Moses, in all well delineated in the common fable of Baucis and the text, makes no mention but of two, Sodom and GoPhilemon : and (to mention no more) that the fate of his morrah; but in another place he enumerates four, and wife, for her looking back upon Sodom, and her being gives this description of their dreadful punishment thereupon changed into a statue of metallic salt, gave ° • When the generations to come shall see the plague of rise to the poet's fiction of the loss of Eurydice, and her that land, and the sicknesses which the Lord hath laid remission into hell for her husband's turning to look upon it, and that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and upon her, and of Niobe's being changed into a stone for salt, and burning like the overthrow of Sodom, and Goresenting the death of her children. So well has infinite morrah, Admah, and Zeboim, (which the Lord overthrew wisdom provided, that the sacred truths of divine revela- in his anger, and in his wrath,) even all the nations shall tion should not only be supported by the attestation of say, Wherefore hath the Lord done this unto the land ?' all ancient history, but preserved likewise even in the Nay,if we will believe 10 the historian above cited, and who vanity and extravagance of fables; for even they, 0 perhaps might have an account of the thing from some Lord, shew the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy Phænician writer, the number of the cities which at this power; that thy power, thy glory, and the nightiness of time were destroyed were thirteen; and to this there is a thy kingdom, might be known unto men.'
passage in the prophet, which seems to give some countenance, though not as to the precise number of them; 11. As I live,' saith the Lord God to Jerusalem, Sodom,
thy sister, has not done, she nor her daughters ' (that is, CHAP. II.-Of the Destruction of Sodom and Go the cities which were built round it, and were tributary to morrah.
it) - have not done, as thou and thy daughters have done.'
But whatever the number of the cities might be, it will be Or all God's judgments upon the wicked, next to that proper for us, before we come to inquire in what manner of the universal deluge, the destruction of Sodom, and they were destroyed, to give some account of their the neighbouring cities in the plain of Jordan, seems to situation. be one of the most remarkable, and the most dreadful 12 The plain of Jordan includes the greatest part of the interpositions of providence ; and may therefore in this flat country, through which the river Jordan runs, from place deserve a particular consideration.
its coming out of the sea of Galilee, to its falling inte That this catastrophe (as 3 the apostle calls it) did the Asphaltite lake, or Salt Sea. But we are not to really happen, according to the account which Moses imagine, that this plain was once a continued level, gives us of it, we have the concurring testimony of all without any risings or descents. The greatest part of it historians, both ancient and modern, to convince us. indeed was champaigne country, (and for this reason was * Diodorus Siculus, after having given us a description commonly called the great field,) but therein we read of the lake Asphaltites, (which now fills the place where 13 of the valley of Jericho, and 14 of the vale of Siddim; these cities once stood,) acquaints us, that the adjacent in the latter of which these cities stood, in a situation so country was then on fire, and sent forth a grievous smell, very advantageous, that we find it compared 15 to the land to which he imputes the sickly and short lives of the neigh- of Egypt, even to the garden of paradise, upon account bouring inhabitants. Strabo, having made mention of of its being so well watered. And well it might, seeing the same lake, pursues his account, and tells us, that the it had (as the Lacus Asphaltites has to this day) not only craggy and burnt rocks, the caverns broken in, and the the streams of the river Jordan running quite through it
, soil all about it adust, and turned to ashes, give credit to but 16 the river Arnon from the east, "? the brook Zered, a report among the people, that formerly several cities and the 18 famous fountain Callirrhoe from the south, falstood there, (whereof Sodom was the chief,) but that by ling into it. Now, since all this water had no direct pasearthquakes, and fire breaking out, there were some of sage into the sea, it must necessarily follow, either that them entirely swallowed up, and others forsaken by the it was conveyed away by some subterraneous passage, or inhabitants that could make their escape. 6 Tacitus de- was swallowed up in the sands, that every where enconscribes the lake much in the same manner with these passed it; which might the more easily be done, because other historians; and then adds, that not far from it are the inhabitants of those hot countries used to divide their fields, now barren, which were reported formerly to have rivers into several small branches, for the benefit of been very fruitful, adorned with large cities which were watering their fields. burned by lightning, and do still retain the traces of their And as this plenty of water gave great riches to the destruction, Solinus is clearly of opinion, that the
8 Maundrell's Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem.
9 Deut. xxix. 22, 23, 24. Strabo, b. 16. n Ezek, xvi. 48 Hug. Grot. de Veritate, ? Huet. Quæst. Alnetan, b. 2. "Wells' Geography of the Old Testament, vol. 1. 13 Deut. xxxiv. J. * 2 Pet. ii. 6.
* B. 19,
5 B, 10.
15 Gen. xiii. 10. See page 145, in the netes Josephus Antiq. b. 4.c. 4. 7 Num. xxi. 12. Pliny, b, 5.c. 16.
6 B. 5.