Page images
PDF
EPUB

Through the power of the mighty one of Jacob,
Through the name of the shepherd-the rock of Israel;
Through the God of thy father, who helped thee,
Through the Almighty, who blessed thee.
May the blessings of the heavens from above,
The blessings of the low-lying deep,

The blessings of the breast and of the womb,
The blessings of thy father and thy mother,
With the blessings of the eternal mountains,
The desirable things of the everlasting hills,
Abound and rest on the head of Joseph-
On the crown of the chief among his brethren."

The meaning of the retrospective part of this passage is too obvious to require indication, but it may be well to observe how exactly the prophetic part was fulfilled in the lot of the tribes descended from Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. The two tribes flourished greatly, occupying a fertile and extensive country on both sides of the Jordan, and, unitedly, much exceeded in population any other tribe, so that they complained to Joshua, "Why hast thou given me but one lot, and one portion to inherit, seeing I am a great people, because the Lord hath blessed me hitherto? (Josh. xviii. 14.) Every variety of national and political blessing seems studiously accumulated upon the head of Joseph; blessings of climate and temperature, with fertilising dews and rains, are promised from the heaven above; an ample supply of water; abundance in the products of the earth; wombs prolific of children and of cattle; and great distinction among the other tribes-seem to be clearly pointed out, and were actually enjoyed. Besides Joshua, five out of the twelve succeeding judges are expressly said to have been of this tribe; and it is probable that Deborah and Abdon also belonged to it: and when the ten tribes revolted against the house of David, Jeroboam, an Ephraimite became king of Israel, and his family retained the crown for some generations; and Ephraim remained the leading tribe in Israel until the Assyrian captivity.

27. "Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf."-The N zeeb, (Canis Lupus of Linnæus), or wolf, has grown familiar to our minds as a ravenous beast, and the enemy of the fold. The sacred text intimates that the habits of the wolf are not only carnivorous, but that his delight and constant exercise from morning till night, and from night till morning, are to surprise the unprotected and to tear the weak in pieces. And this account of its habits coincides with the observation of travelleis, who concur in representing the wolf as continually on the prowl with an unsated appetite, and seizing every opportunity of doing harm, where its fears are not strong enough to overcome its thirst of blood. Most commentators agree in referring the comparison of Benjamin to a wolf, to the fierce and unjust contest in which the tribe engaged with the other tribes, and in which, after two victories, it was almost exterminated. (Judges xix, and xx.) After this, although the tribe gave the first king to Israel, in the person of Saul, it never was of much consequence, and was ultimately absorbed in the tribe of Judah, with which it retained its allegiance to the house of David when the other tribes revolted.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

13 For 'his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.

14 And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.

11 And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abel-mizraim, which is beyond Jordan.

15¶ And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.

16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command, before he died, saying,

17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.

18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.

19 And Joseph said unto them, "Fear not : for am I in the place of God?

20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

[blocks in formation]

26 So Joseph died, being an hundred

12 And his sons did unto him according and ten years old: and they embalmed him, as he commanded them: and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

1 Heb. wept. 2 Chap. 47. 29. 8 That is, the mourning of the Egyptians. 4 Acts 7. 16. 5 Chap. 23. 16. 6 Heb. charged. 7 Chap. 45. 5. 8 Heb. to their hearts. 9 Num. 32. 39. 10 Heb. born. 11 Ieb. 11. 22. 12 Exod. 13. 19. Verse 2. "The physicians embalmed Israel."-The Egyptian custom of so embalming the dead as to preserve the corpse for perhaps a thousand generations arose from the doctrine of their religion, which taught that the continuance of the

soul in the region of blessedness was contingent upon the preservation of the body. When that perished, the banished soul had to begin anew its career in connexion with physical existence, and after migrating, during a period of 3000 years, through various forms of being, ultimately became again associated with the human form, and when its life terminated, was to be again admitted to its precarious felicity-separated from, but connected with, the" earthly tabernacle" which had been left in the world exposed to the injuries of men and the accidents of time. It is obvious how this principle would operate in originating elaborate and careful processes for the embalming of the dead.

We regret that the limits of a note preclude us from giving that attention to this curious subject which it deserves. Herodotus, who was in Egypt about 460 years B.C., first described the process of embalming. For a translation of the text of Herodotus and other matters connected with this subject, we refer our readers to the chapter on Mummies,' in the second volume on Egyptian Antiquities' in the Library of Entertaining Knowledge.'

3. "Forty days," &c.-It is rather difficult to understand the meaning of the different numbers, forty days and seventy days. Herodotus mentions seventy days as the time which the body lay in nitre, which agrees with the time of mourning for Jacob. Diodorus, however, takes no notice at all of this process, which seems to have been often omitted, and says that the embalming occupied forty days. Bishop Warburton conjectures that the whole period of pickling and embalming occupied seventy days: that to say, that the body was laid in nitre thirty days, and that the remaining forty, were occupied in preparing it with gums and spices, which was the proper embalming. Thus, therefore, forty days may be said to be the time of embalming, although the corpse was seventy days in the hands of the embalmers. This view certainly does not obviate all the discrepancies between the several accounts of Moses, Herodotus, and Diodorus; but it is the best attempt we have met with. It is remarkable, however, that Moses's numbers should contain both the numbers mentioned by the others. It is also observable that Diodorus mentions seventy-two days as the period of mourning for the king, whence some have conceived that Jacob was mourned for as a king, and that the seventy in the text is a round number for seventy-two. Be this as it may, it must give some idea of the mourning for Jacob to state the observances during the mourning for a king, as given by Diodorus. They shut up their temples, and abstained during the seventy-two days from all sacrifices, solemnities, and feasts. They rent their clothes, begrimed their heads and faces with mud, and in this condition men and women went about in companies of two or three hundred, with their loins girded and their breasts bare, singing plaintive songs, reciting the virtues of him they had lost. During the time of mourning they abstained from wine and generous diet. They ate no animal meat, or food dressed by fire, and abstained from their customary baths and anointings. Every one mourned as for the loss of his dearest child, and spent all the day in lamentations. A great part of this agrees in essentials with what Herodotus states as the observances of an ordinary mourning. The difference was probably only one of duration, and in that for a king being general.

25. "Ye shall carry up my bones from hence.”—We see in the next verse that the body of Joseph was embalmed. In this and many other places, "bones" denote generally a corpse. The Israelites were enabled to perform this promise; for after carrying the mummy of Joseph about with them in their forty years' wanderings, they were enabled to deposit it in the ground which Jacob bought at Shechem (Josh. xxiv. 32). Josephus seems to say, that the bodies of the other patriarchs were carried up to Hebron, and buried there soon after they died. This is probable; and that the same was not done by Joseph's remains, is probably explained by the unwillingness of the Egyptians to part with the mummy of so prominent a public character as Joseph had been. The earnest desire of the patriarchs, that their remains should be deposited in the country which they regarded as their native land, and which was to be possessed by their descendants, does not call for particular elucidation. It is a frequent occurrence among ourselves for the remains of persons of consideration who have died abroad, to be brought home for interment. We have all read of the practice among the American Indians to carry away with them the bones of their fathers, when the encroaching white men obliged them to migrate from their ancient seats.

26. "He was put in a coffin.”—This is certainly mentioned here as a distinction. Coffins have never been much used in the East, although great personages have occasionally been deposited in marble sarcophagi. The custom was and is to wrap the body up closely in wrappers, or to swathe it with bandages and so bury it, or deposit it in the excavated sepulchre. In Egypt coffins were more in use than any where else, but still the common people were obliged to dispense with them. On the other hand, persons of wealth or distinction had two, three, or even four coffins, one within the other. Upon this subject we may also refer our readers to the second volume of Egyptian Antiquities.'

THE SECOND BOOK OF MOSES,

[ocr errors]

CALLED

EXODUS.

CHAPTER I.

1 The children of Israel, after Joseph's death, do multiply. 8 The more they are oppressed by a new king, the more they multiply. 15 The godliness of the midwives, in saving the men children alive. 22 Pharaoh commandeth the male children

to be cast into the river.

OW these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his houshold came with Jacob.

2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,

3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, 4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were 'seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.

6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.

7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:

10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.

dren of Israel to serve with rigour: 13 And the Egyptians made the chil

14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

15

And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:

16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.

[graphic]

17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?

19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.

1 Gen. 46. 8. Chap. 6. 14.

2 Heb. thigh.

4 Acts 7. 17.

3 Gen. 46. 27. Deut. 10, 22. 5 Heb. and as they afflicted them, so they multiplied, &c. EXODUS.-This title is derived from the Septuagint, and is descriptive of the contents of the book, signifying the "going forth or departure"-i. e., of the Israelites from Egypt. The Hebrews, according to their custom, denominate the book from its initial words (re-aleh shemoth)-"Now these are the names;" or, sometimes, only Shemoth-"names." The book contains the history of 145 years, from the death of Joseph to the erection of the tabernacle at the commencement of the first year from the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt. In the New Testament there are said to be twenty-five direct quotations from this book, and nineteen allusions to its sense.

[graphic][ocr errors]

BRICK PYRAMID OF FAIOUM.

Verse 8. "There arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph."-Mr. Faber, by an acute analysis of the fragment of Egyptian history by Manetho, preserved by Josephus, has thrown a degree of light on the transactions of this period, as connected with the sacred narrative, of which it did not previously seem susceptible. Some of the results of this gentleman's investigations we have given in the note to Gen. ch. xlvi. 34. We must refer to his work on 'the Origin of Pagan Idolatry, vol. iii., Book vi., for the details of his most satisfactory elucidations of this very perplexing subject; and shall here give, as briefly as possible, the principal results which are applicable to the illustration of the present text and subsequent narrative. We have seen that a native dynasty in Lower Egypt was subverted by a race of Cushite shepherds; that after 260 years the natives succeeded in expelling the intruders; that, under the restored dynasty, Joseph acquired consequence in Egypt, and that his family came thither and settled in the pasture lands of Goshen, which the Arabian nomades had recently vacated. It is to be observed, that Manetho calls the Israelites the leprous shepherds, perhaps from some tradition concerning the leprosy of Moses. He says, that these shepherds having greatly increased in the land of Avaris (Goshen), so as to become a powerful body, began to meditate revolutionary projects, and invited the expelled shepherd-kings to return out of Palestine; which fatal invitation led to the complete re-establishment of the pastoral tyranny. It seems that the native king and a considerable part of the priests and warriors withdrew into the Thebais and Ethiopia, while the people who remained behind were subjected to great oppression from the conquerors. This then was the new dynasty,-"the new king that knew not Joseph." That he knew not Joseph and the services he had rendered to Egypt is justly regarded by Mr. Faber as a satisfactory proof that he was a stranger. As to the invitation from the Hebrews, we are not bound to admit it; but we are rather less inclined to doubt it than Mr. Faber seems to be. It appears to us that if there had not been some understanding between them, the Hebrews would have defended the Egyptian frontier; and that if they had done so, a fact of so much importance would probably have been mentioned by the sacred historian. The warlike shepherds must have passed through their country, and it appears, from the subsequent fears of the king himself, that they were in a condition, by their numbers and strength, to have offered a most powerful resistance to the invasion if they had been so inclined. We wonder this escaped the notice of Mr. Faber. Be this as it may, the policy of the new sovereign, as mentioned by Moses, is easily illustrated." He found himself master of a land in which were two distinct races of men ; who, from a sense of mutual benefits, had generally lived in strict amity with each other: and he was fully aware, or at least he naturally suspected, that notwithstanding any temporary disgust, the Israelites would be far more likely to make common cause with their friends the Mizraim, than with himself and his intrusive warriors. Hence to a man who was restrained by no nice scruples of conscience, who considered only how he might best secure his conquest, and who neither knew nor regarded Joseph, the policy is obvious; and the principle of it is most distinctly exposed by Moses."

See note on v. 10.

9. "The people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we."-This strongly corroborates the preceding statement. Only 109 years had at this time (a good while before Moses was born) passed since the Israelites were no more than seventy persons, and that they had so soon become more numerous than the native Egyptians, who had been a settled nation for about 650 years, it is not necessary to suppose and is not compatible with the fact that the Egyptians had so long been a nation. But the conquering tribe may easily be supposed to have been fewer in number than even the smallest of the two nations that then occupied Egypt.

10. "Come on, let us deal wisely," &c.-" Every part of this declaration throws light upon the history, and serves to

« PreviousContinue »