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420. The truth is, that the present duration of life, is to us more credible, simply because it is one to which we are accustomed, and not because there is any natural reason why it should be so. If the time ever comes, as possibly it may, when men are old at thirty, and seldom live beyond that age, there will not be wanting those who will endeavor to show that, never in the history of the world, have men lived to the incredible age of one hundred years, though, by a peculiar use of words, or mode of reckoning, historians may seem to so represent them. One impression that seems to prevail, relating to this subject, should be corrected in this place. The change from the great age of the first inhabitants of the world, to the present standard, was not sudden, as seems to be commonly thought, but was gradual, extending over a long period. The different ages from Adam to Joseph stand thus: -930, 912, 905, 910, 895, 962, 365, 969, 777, 950, 600, 438, 433, 464, 239, 230, 148, 205, 175, 180, 147, 110.
421. Again; the understanding we have of vi. 1-4, helps to confirm the idea of the great longevity of those ancient times. The passage is as follows:
1. And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2. That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3. And the LORD said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man,
sons of God" were simply men, and the " daughters of men," were simply women; and the giants of those days, we take to be men of great stature, as well as prolonged age. The meaning is, that the men of those days, as well as their immediate descendants, were of gigantic stature, in comparison with those who lived at a later day when the account was written. The phrase "of old" shows that the writer is speaking of times that were an
cient to himself, and of course that he regards them in the way of contrast with those of his own times. With this view, which is an exceedingly natural one, we remove at once the vain and absurd speculations of men concerning this passage; and the whole subject becomes more consistent, as there seems great propriety in supposing that the stature and age of men should correspond. We may add one or two circumstances by way of confirmation. We know that animals and vegetables, during the fossil epochs, were much larger than any that are now found in the same regions of country where these existed. May we not then infer that when man was made, and for ages afterwards, they were of larger stature than they were at a later day this being true of man as of other animals the same principle prevailing that had prevailed before, requiring a gradual decrease in size to correspond with the decrease of temperature. Notice again, that as we might expect, not only individuals but whole tribes, of more than common size, are alluded to at a later day; and again that human relics of great magnitude, have been found in all parts of the world.
NOAH AND HIS FAMILY.
CONTENTS.- Incidental notices of Noah ; Noah Blessed; Covenant with Noah; Noah's Prediction; Death of Noah; Genealogy of Shem; Of Ham; Of Japheth.
SECTION I.-INCIDENTAL REFERENCES TO NOAH.
422. Noah was son of Lamech in the lineage of Adam through Seth, and was five hundred years old when his sons were born. He was regarded by his father as one that should fill an important place in that age. v. 28-32. Other notices of Noah will be found in the following passages where he is spoken of in connection with the flood.
But Noah found grace in the
eyes of the LORD.
perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
9. These are the generations of 10. And Noah begat three sons, Noah: Noah was a just man, and | Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
This is a noble commendation, to which it is several times added that "Noah did according to all that God commanded him." vi. 22; vii. 5.
6. And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.
And his sons were about one hundred years old at this time. Compare v. 32.
423. The transactions of Noah in the ark hardly need a word of explanation. They are such as would naturally suggest themselves under the circumstances. The raven went to and fro till the waters were dried up from off the earth. That the raven returned to Noah, is not asserted. It was not necessary to do so, to obtain food, as the dead carcasses that floated upon the water, would afford it nourishment fitted to its nature and wants. The dove returned to Noah, and at length brought to him an olive leaf, from which he knew that the waters were greatly diminished, and that the land would soon be dry. It has been agreed that the ark could not have rested on Mount Ararat, as, nowhere in that vicinity, is the olive to be found; but it may be replied that we have no statement where the olive leaf was obtained; and we know the dove could have obtained it, at a great distance, and not be gone long from Noah.
20. And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
21. And the LORD smelled a sweet savor; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake;
for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
22. While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
424. The offering of sacrifices is mentioned in connection with Cain and Abel; and now in conformity with ancient custom, and on an occasion when it would seem specially fit to do so, Noah selects a suitable number of clean animals and offers them as an offering to the Lord.
SECTION II. - NOAH BLESSED.
1. And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
3. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
4. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
5. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man.
6. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
7. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
425. "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth," is the same language as that addressed to Adam and Eve at first, except that the clause "subdue it" is omitted, which was not now as necessary as then. The parallel reaches farther. The "fear and dread" that were upon every beast of the field, &c., is substantially the same as the "dominion "" over the beasts given to Adam. And when it is added, in the same connection, "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you,' we infer that the same thing was implied in the original grant, and that animal food, as well as vegetable, was intended for Adam as well as for Noah.
426. "The flesh, with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat." The life was first to be taken by the shedding of the blood; after which the flesh was to be eaten. "And surely your blood of your lives will I require." Viewing this with reference to what goes before, and placing the emphasis properly, and we shall have the true sense of this difficult passage. It was the same as to say:-The blood of animals, in
other words, the life of animals, is given over to you. You may slay and eat as you have occasion; but your life or blood I require. That is to be held sacred. At the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man. I command every man to respect the life of his brother, and to protect and defend it. Let the reader bear in mind that these statements are made with reference to man's relation to the beasts, and to the exposure of human life thereby implied.
427. This will prepare us to understand that much controverted passage: "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." We do not doubt that "whoso," (which, in the original, may refer to animals as well as to men, depending on the connection and circumstances,) has reference here to animals; and the meaning is, that wild and dangerous animals are to be destroyed, though not intended for food. Whoso (the animal that) sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed. The reason given for what is here stated, is exceedingly appropriate, with this construction, "In the image of God made he man." Man, by his nature, is placed above the beasts.
428. Several reasons favor this view of the passage. One is, that God would not be likely to require us to act upon a principle on which he did not himself act, in a similar case. Cain committed murder, and under very aggravated circumstances. God sat in judgment upon the crime, and pronounced sentence of condemnation upon the criminal. But the punishment was banishment, and not death. This is not all. Whoever should slay the offender, should himself be punished with a severer infliction. Is it reasonable to conclude that a principle here, approved, should so soon be repudiated; and a principle here condemned, should so soon be enjoined as a rule of action? But the reason assigned, that man is made in the image of God, is opposed to the common views. Is not the murderer made in the image of God, as well as his victim? and if so, the same reason should prevail against killing him, that should have restrained him from killing his brother. It may be added that the