Page images
PDF
EPUB

as a general rule, 'That whosoever standeth in the holy place must first put off his shoes. They suppose the same thing to be taught also by the precept. Lev. 19. 30. ‘Ye shall reverence my sanctuary. This rule is scrupulously observed at this day by the Mahommedans in respect to their places of worship. Among the precepts also of Pythagoras occurs the following: Perform your sacrifices and rights of worship with naked foot.' The Romans too, had their nudepedalia sacra,' barefooted sacred rites.- Is holy ground ;' Heb.is ground of holiness,' i. e. sanctified by the presence and manifestation of the Deity, who makes the heavens, the earth, the sanctuary, or whatever place it be in which his glory is revealed, to be accounted

holy,' and therefore to be occupied with devout reverence by his worshipers. Accordingly the mount on which Christ was transfigured, 2 Pet 1. 18. is called the 'holy mount.' Aholiness' of this kind, founded solely upon Divine appointment, and not upon the intrinsic nature of the subject, is termed relative' in contradistinction from positive,' or 'absolute,' and ceases when the occasion creating it ceases.

How did the Divine Speaker then proceed to declare himself, and what was the effect upon Moses ? v. 6. *I am the God of thy father.' This is usually understood of Moses' immediate father, Amram, but the term is more probably to be considered as a collective singular, equiva. lent to · fathers. Accordingly it is rendered in Stephen's version of this event, Acts 7. 32. 'I am the God of thy fathers.? A like sense, we presume, is to be given to the expression, Ex. 15. 2. He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation ; my father's God, and I will exali him ;' i. e. the God of my ancestors in general. We suppose the true import of the passage before us would be better expressed by the rendering ;-—'I am the God of thy fathers, (even) ihe God of Abraham, &c.' This is obviously confirmed by v. 15 of this chapter. For he was afraid to look upon God;' or Heb. "And Moses hid his face-for he was afraid -- from looking upon God.' Chal. "he feared to look toward the glory of God;' i. e. the overpowering brightness of the Shochinah, in which alone God mani fested his presence, or made himself visible, under the Old

[ocr errors]

Testament. Compare with this the conduct of Elijah, under an impressive revelation of the Divine glory, 1 Kings, 19. 13.

For what purpose did our Lord, on a particular occasion, adduce this passage in the writings of Moses ? Luke 20. 37, 38.

What did the Most High then proceed to declare respecting the condition of Israel, and his own gracious purposes ? v. 7–9. • I have surely seen ;' Heb. 'seeing I have seen ;' i. e. have intently considered. Arab. ‘have regarded the weakness, &c.' Thus, Ps. 106. 44. Nevertheless he regarded their affliction when he heard their cry;' Heb. ‘he saw their affliction.' --'By reason of their task-masters ;' Heb.

by reason of his task-masters ;' speaking of the whole body of the people as one man, according to a very common usage. The original for 'task.masters, though of equivalent import, is not the same word with that so rendered, Ch. 1. 11.

but properly signifies exactors,'translated in Job. 39. 7. *driver,' and in Zech. 9. 8. ‘oppressor.' Gr. 'work-masters ;' Chal. 'rulers.' --'I know their sor.

Thus, Hos. 13.5. 'I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought;' i. e. I did compassionately know thee; I knew thee so as to succor thee. Here also, it is to be observed that the original has, "his sorrows,' instead of 'their.'—' And I am come down to de• liver them;' Heb. ‘to deliver him.' In strict propriety of speech neither ascent nor descent can be predicated of the Omnipresent Being, but in adaptation to our modes of conceiving of the Divine acts, God is said to 'come down' when he puts forth in the sight of men such striking exhi. bitions of his power, either for grace or judgment, as shall constitute an indubitable token of his special presence. It may be remarked, moreover, that whenever the Most High is said, in the sacred volume, to 'descend,'some signal event of his providence is uniformly represented as following. Thus, when he is said to have resolved to go down and see the sins of Sodom, the fearful overthrow of their city quickly ensued ;' when he came down' to thwart the building of Babel, the confusion of tongues followed, as it

rows.'

[ocr errors]

were, upon his footsteps; and when, in the narrative betore us, he announces his purpose of descending in behalf of his people, their miraculous deliverance, with deserved vengeance upon Egypt, is the memorable result.--'Unto a good land and a large;' not, indeed, very large in itself, but large in comparison with their territory in Goshen, and of sufficient extent to contain with ease all the population of that race which was destined to inherit it.- Unto a land flowing with milk and honey.' An abundance of milk and honey indicates a country rich in pasturage and flowers, of which the one is evinced by the teeming udders of the flocks and herds, the other, by the replenished hives of the industrious bee. If this should be thought too rigid an interpretation of the words, 'milk' may be understood to denote all kinds of necessary food, and honey,' wbat. ever is peculiarly agreeable to the palate, so that this expression, so often applied to the land of Canaan, may be simply intended to characterise a very fruitful and pleasant country, abounding in all the products necessary to the subsistence of life, and rich in the dainties which minister to the gratification of the taste. See the emphatic commen. dation of the soil, productions, &c. of the promised land, Deat. 8. 7-9. The same proverbial expression of plenty is familiar to the classic writers. Thus Euripides, Bac. v. 142, The field flows with milk, with wine, and with the nectar of bees.' The enemies of revelation have drawn arguments from the present neglected state of some parts of Palestine to invalidate the statements of the sacred historians, who represent it as one of the most delightful spots upon the face of the earth. In this, however, they have not only utterly failed, but by drawing the attention of modern travellers to the subject, have unwittingly contributed toward the illustration and confirmation of the sacred records. The land, indeed, has suffered under the blighting dominion of the Saracens and Turks; agriculture has been neglected; and an air of desolation has crept over its once luxuriant hills and dales, but the traces of its original fertility and beauty are far from having been wholly obliterated. We may infer, from the following passages from the pens of eminent travellers, what Palestine was in a state of prosperity. "We left the road,' says D'Arvieux, to avoid the Arabs, whom it is always disagreeable to meet with, and reached by a side path the

summit of a mountain, where we found a beautiful plain. It must be confessed, that if we could live secure in this country, it would be the most agreeable residence in the world, partly on account of the pleasing diversity of mountains and valleys, parily on account of the salubrious air which we breathe there, and whirh is at all times filled with balsamic odors from the wild flowers of these valleys, and from the aromatic herbs on the hills.' Dr. E. D. Clarke, speaking of the appearance of the country between Siche em and Jerusalem, says, ' A sight of this territory alone, can convey any adequate idea of its surprising produce: it is truly the Eden of the East, rejoicing in the abundance of its wealih. The eitect of this upon the people was strikingly pourtrayed in every countenance. Under a wise and beneficent government, the produce of the Holy Land would exceed all calculation. Its perennial harvests; the salubrity of its air ; its limpid springs; its rivers, lakes, and matchless plains; its hills and vales; all these, added to the serenity of its climate, prove this land to be indeed

a field which the Lord hath blessed: God hath given it of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine!'- Canaanites, Hittites, Amonites, &c.'; all singular in the original, and so in numerous other instances. What purpose

did he announce with respect to Moses himself, and what was Moses' reply? v. 10, 11.

I will send thee unto Pharaoh.' The secret impulsc from God under which Moses had formerly acted, Ex. 2. 11. Acts, 7.25. in his incipient essays toward the deliverance of his people, here becomes an open call and a full commission; and he, whom the Israelites had before refused, saying, ' Who made thee a ruler and a judge, the same did God send to be a ruler and deliverer by the hand of i he angel which appeared to him in the bush. This mis. son of Moses is repeatedly celebrated in different parts of the Old Tesiament, as a special favor to his people; Ps. 105. 26. 'He sent Moses his servant, ad Aaron whom he had chosen.' Hos. 12, 13. “And by a prophet the Lord brought Israel ought of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.' Mic. 6. 4. 'And I sent before thee Moscs,

Aaron, and Miriam.'—Who am I that I should go unto Pharaoh. Jarchi; “What is my dignity, (estimation) that I should hold discourse with kings? Moses replies thus, not from the promptings of a disobedient spirit, like that which led Jonah to fee from the presence of the Lord, but from a profoundly humble sense of his own unworthiness and incompetence for a trust of the arduous nature of which he was fully aware. From a similar consciousness, Isaiah shrunk from the duty to which he was called of being the Lord's messenger, saying, “I am a man of unclean lips;' and Jeremiah was led to exclaim, 'Ah, Lord God! behold I cannot speak; for I am a child.' Moses knew that he was obnoxious to Pharaoh, odious to the Egyptian nation, and not in favor with his own people.

How were his objections obviated, and what satisfying token of his commission was promised ?

v. 12.

token;

Certainly I will be with thee;' Chal. "My word shall be for thy help.'—'And this shall be a token unto thee.' These words are understood by most of the Rabbinical commentators to refer to the supernatural appearance which Moses was now called to witness in the burning bush. According to this mode of interpretation there is a. two-fold assurance conveyed to him in the two several clauses of this verse ; first, that God would be with him, and protect him in his embassy to Pharaoh ; and of this fact he might regard the spectacle before him as a sign or

for as he saw the burning bush subservient to the divine pleasure, without being consumed, so he might be confident of being enabled to execute the commission as. signed him without personal harm; secondly, that when this was accomplished, when he had delivered his message to Pharaoh, and brought out the people from Egypt, then both he and all the host of Israel should serve God, by oblations of sacrifice and praise, upon that very mountain where he now stood. The mass of modern interpreters, however, understand the token here spoken of, to refer, not to the vision of the divine glory in the burning bush, but to the actual future result of the mission now devolved upon Moses: the sign promised was no other than the event itself, which was predicted; q. d. Go now and

« PreviousContinue »