« PreviousContinue »
Exodus, to describe the state and condition of the church as collected out of several families, and united into one society or body politic, the head of which was Jehovah himself; on which account the government of the Jews, from the time of Moses to the institution of royalty among them, is usually termed a Theocracy. The Book of Exodus accordingly records the cruel persecution of the Israelites in Egypt, under Pharaoh; the birth, exposure, and preservation of Moses; his subsequent flight into Midian; his call and mission to Pharaoh; the miracles performed by him and his brother Aaron; the ten plagues inflicted on the Egyptians; the institution of the Passover, and the departure of the Children of Israel from Egypt; their passage across the Red Sea, and the destruction of the Egyptian army; the subsequent journeyings of the Israelites in the desert; the promulgation of the law from Mount Sinai; and the erection of the Tabernacle; the punishment inflicted by God upon his enemies, and the base returns which his people made for his goodness.
From what does it appear that the authorship of this book is to be ascribed to Moses?
Moses testifies of himself, Ex. 24. 4, that he wrote all the words of the Lord,' commanded trim on a certain occasion, which words are contained in this book. Our Savior, also, when citing (Mark 12. 26) a certain passage from this book, calls it the Book of Moses.' And again, (Luke 20, 37,) he says, 'Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush.' It is moreover to be observed that the Books of the O. Testament are spoken of in the New, as divided into two grand classes (Luke 15. 31,) 'Moses and the prophets;' and in v. 16, 'the law and the prophets;' so that all the scriptures, besides 'the prophets,' were written by Moses; in other words, the four books of the 'law,' were written by him. It may be further remarked, that twenty-five passages are quoted by Christ and his apostles out of this book in express words, and nineteen, as to the sense.
What were the names of the children of Israel which, with their households, accompanied Jacob into Egypt? v. 1, 4.
'Now these; Heb. and these.' The copulative 'and' sometimes occurs at the beginning of a book when it can have no reference to any thing preceding, as Est. 1, 1. 'Now it came to pass;' Heb. 'and it came to pass.' But here it is used in its connective sense to indicate the continuation of the foregoing narrative, as the Books of Moses appear not to have been originally divided, as at present, into five separate portions, but to have constituted one unbroken volume. This is inferred from the manner in which the writings of Moses are quoted in the N. Testament, where no such distinction is recognized. See Luke 16, 31.-Household;' Heb. "house;' Chal. 'men of the house." In this enumeration the sons of the handmaids are reckoned last, which accounts for Benjamin's occupying the seventh place instead of the eleventh. The frequent rehearsal of the names of the twelve patriarchs, in the Sacred History, carries with it an allusion to the mystical use of the number 'twelve' in its application to the church of the New Testament. Thus, Rev. 7. 5. 8. mention is made of the twelve tribes of Israel, and of twelve thousand sealed in every tribe; Ch. 12. 1. of the twelve stars upon the woman's crown; Ch. 21. 12, 14 of the twelve gates, and twelve foundations of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem; where it may be observed that the jasper foundation, the precious stone in the breast-plate, on which Benjamin's name was written, is the first in order.
What was, at this time, the whole number of Jacob's descendant's? v. 5.
'All the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob;' Heb. 'all the soul (col. sing.) of the proceeders out of the thigh of Jacob.'-Seventy souls ;' i. e. persons. By comparing this passage with Gen. 46. 27. it appears that the whole number, exclusive of Jacob himself, amounted to 66; including him, to 67; so that Joseph, with his two sons, are necessary to make up the complement. In answer to the
objection that this mode of enumeration represents Jacob as coming out of his own thigh, see note on Gen. 35. 22, 26. The Sept. version, which transfers the final clause of this verse to the beginning of it, states the number at 75, which is followed by Stephen, Acts 7. 14. For an explanation of this apparent discrepancy, see note on Gen. 46. 27. For Joseph was in Egypt already;' and, therefore, is to be excepted from the number which came into Egypt, though not from the number of Jacob's descendants.
Who are said to have died? v. 6.
Joseph lived to the age of 110 years, during 80 of which he was ruler in Egypt. His death occurred, A. M. 2369, 71 years after Jacob's emigration to Egypt, and 54 after his death. All that generation;' i. e. not only the whole generation of Joseph's kindred, but all the men of that age, Egyptians as well as Israelites.
What disposition was made of the remains of Joseph's brethren? Acts 7, 16.
What is said of the children of Israel subsequently to the death of Joseph and his brethren? v. 7.
"Were fruitful.' None of their women were barren; they began early and continued long in bearing, and not unfrequently perhaps brought forth more than one at a birth.--'Increased abundantly; Heb. 'increased, or bred swiftly, like reptiles, or fish.' See note on Gen. 48. 16. It was 430 years from the call of Abraham to the deliverance from Egypt, during the first 215 of which the promised seed increased to bui 70 souls, but during the latter half of the same period, these 70 were multiplied to 600,000 fighting men, Num. 1. 46; and if to these we add the women, the children, and the aged, the whole number probably amounted to upward of two millions!' Ps. 105.24. And he increased his people greatly, and made them stronger than their enemies.' See also Deut. 26. 5.--'And the land was filled with them;' i. e. not only the land of Goshen, their own peculiar province, but various other parts of Egypt.
What is said of the successor to the throne? v. 8. There arose up a new king over Egypt;' Gr. ' another king;' implying, probably, a king of another race, of a dif
ferent dynasty; one who came to the throne, not by regular succession, but by violent usurpation. This interpretation appears to be warranted by the analagous usage of the word 'new' in the following passages; Deut. 32. 17.
They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up;' i. e. to strange gods, to exotic deities. Judg. 5. 8. They chose new gods;' i. e. the gods of the heathen. So Mark 16. 17. They shall speak with new tongues ;' i. e. with foreign tongues, the languages of other people. Whether, however, this new king was a foreigner who had conquered the country and seized the government, or the leader of a successful domestic rebellion, it is not possible to determine. It may here be remarked that the original word for 'arose' is sometimes used in the sense of standing up by usurped authority, or violent aggression. Thus, Mic. 7. 6. For the son dishonoreth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother.' P. 18. 39. 'Thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me; Heb. my risers-up.' Deut. 33. 11. Smite through the loins of them that rise against him.' Heb. his risers-up.' So with the corresponding Greek term, Acts 5. 36. For before these days rose up Theudas;' i.e. as a leader of rebellion.-- Which knew not Joseph;' Chal. which confirmed not the decree of Joseph.' The import of the original is, who regarded not, who appreciated not. The memory of the name and services of so eminent a benefactor could not but have been preserved among the nation, and must, as a matter of report, have come to the ears of the king, but it is a peculiarity of words of knowledge, in the Hebrew, that they imply also the exercise of the affections. Thus, Ps. 1. 6. 'The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous,' i. e. loveth. Ps. 31. 7. "Thou hast known my soul in adversities;' i. e. thou hast tenderly regarded. Prov. 24. 23. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment; Heb. 'to know persons.' Job. 34. 19. How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor; Heb. 'nor knoweth the rich.'
What oppressive policy toward the Israelites did he propose for adoption to his people, and for what ostensible reasons? v. 9, 10.
Said unto his people;' i. e. to his people in the persons of
their representatives, his counsellors.- More and mightier than we;' Heb. ' many and mightier than we.' Although it has been supposed that this was a false pretext for reducing the Israelites to bondag, yet we see not why it might not have been literally true.-'Let us deal wisely with them; Heb. 'let us deal wisely against them ;' i. e. cunningly, craftily; let us devise some method of oppressing them and preventing their enormous increase, and, at the same time, avoid the show of open and downright tyranny, and the danger of encountering a more formidable power. Lest they multiply;' i.e. lest they continue to multiply, for they had already began to increase with immense rapidity. Hatred of their religion, envy at their prosperity, fear of their growing strength, and a covetous desire of possessing themselves of their riches, were the governing motives by which the oppressors of Israel were actuated. When there falleth out any war.' The origi nal here presents a grammatical anomaly in point of concord, the verb 'falleth out,' being in the plural, while the substantive,war,' is in the singular. Such instances occur where it is the object of the writer to give at once a collective and distributive sense to the term employed. This import of the phrase our translators have endeavored to intimate by introducing, very properly, the epithet 'any,' which does not occur in the Hebrew. A usage precisely similar is met with in the following passages; Ps. 119. 103. How sweet are thy words unto my taste;' i. e. all and singular of thy words. Prov. 28. 1.'The wicked flee when no man pursueth;' i e. the wicked, one and all, flee. So also 1 Tim. 2. 15. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in child-bearing, if they continue in faith, and charity, and holiness.'
Has it ever been a usual policy with the enemies of God's people to represent them as hostile to civil governments? See Ez. 4. 12-16. Est. 3. 8. Acts, 16. 21.—17. 7.
How did they proceed to carry this counsel into execution, and in what works were the children of Israel employed? v. 11.
Task-masters; or, tax-gatherers; both senses are in