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a hundred pieces of money. So in Egypt, when the people had paid all their money to Joseph for food, they say to him: "There is not aught left in the sight of our lord, but our bodies and our lands." It is added; Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field.” The lands of the priests were exempted from this arrangement. xiii. 18; xiv. 17; xxiii. 15; xxxiii. 19; xlvii. 18-22.
SECTION XII. -TRADE AND COMMERCE.
149. In the arrangement that was to have been entered into by Shechem and his father Hamor, on the one side, and Jacob and his sons on the other, the latter were to have the privilege of "remaining in the land and trading and getting possessions therein." The trade, here referred to, however, must have been quite limited. There was a class of professional "" merchantmen" whose business is sufficiently described in the only passage that speaks of them. They carried down to Egypt the choicest productions of their country, "balm, spicery and myrrh." And the fact that they purchased Joseph; and the thing is not mentioned as unusual, shows us that they were not unaccustomed to the traffic in human chattels. Indeed the frequent allusion to servants, bought with money, makes it evident that this was one article of commerce in those days, not only with the Ishmaelites and Egyptians but with Abraham and the other patriarchs. That real estate was bought and sold we have seen in another place. xxxiv. 8-11; xxxvii. 28; xxxvii. 35.
SECTION XIII. — OATHS AND CONTRACTS.
150. As a specimen of contracts, or rather the mode of making them, that between Abraham and Abimelech, may be noticed. Abimelech, said to Abraham; "Now, therefore, sware unto me here by God, that
thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son; but, according to the kindness I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned." Abraham did swear as requested, and gave Abimelech sheep and oxen, to remind him of the obligations that rested upon the parties. And, moreover, having had some difficulty with Abimelech concerning a well which the latter had at length admitted to be Abraham's, seven ewe lambs are placed by themselves, and given over to Abimelech as a perpetual memento of the proper ownership of the well. The covenant between Jacob and Laban, after being sufficiently explained, was attested by a monument, a heap of stones, that should ever remind the contracting parties of their mutual obligations, and help to perpetuate the understanding to future times. The bargain of Jacob and Esau, by which the latter sold his birthright, was sanctioned by an oath. xxi. 23--32; xxxi. 44-55; xxv. 33.
The form of swearing, with a view to ratify an engagement, was not always the same. It was sometimes by lifting up the hand and swearing by God, and sometimes by placing the hand under the thigh. Swearing was sometimes by God, and sometimes by other forms. Jacob swore by the fear of Isaac, and Joseph, by the life of Pharaoh. xiv. 22; xxiv. 2; xlvii. 29; xxxi. 53; xlii. 15.
151. The most important of all contracts are such as the Deity condescended to make with man. The Covenant with Noah and his sons, and every living creature, that there should no more be a flood upon the earth, was ratified by a perpetual sign, the bow in the clouds. The promise to Abraham that God would make him exceedingly fruitful, and give to him, and to his seed after him, the whole land of Canaan, was to be remembered by the change of the name Abram to Abraham, the latter more clearly expressing the nature of the divine promise. On another occasion,
the promise is repeated with some important additions, and confirmed by an oath. The rite of circumcision was instituted, as another memento of the same thing. ix. 9-13; xvii. 2; xxii. 16-18; xvii. 11.
152. The most important war recorded in Genesis, is the one spoken of in chapter fourteenth. It seems to be related chiefly to give the experience of Abraham and Lot in relation to it. The latter was taken captive and afterwards restored by the prompt and energetic movements of his uncle, and brought back to his home in Sodom. The narrative brings clearly before us the state of society, in that country, at the time when the circumstances occurred. Each king is spoken of as exercising authority over a single city and its surrounding country; but what are here called "cities" were obviously but inconsiderable villages of a few scores, or at most, a few hundreds of inhabitants, and are not to be estimated by the cities of modern times.
153. The weapons made use of in the wars of those times, may be learned by several brief allusions. The sword is several times mentioned. So is the sword and bow. xxvii. 40; xxxi. 26; xxxiv. 25; xlviii. 22. In describing the descendants of Ishmael, mention is made of their "castles," which might have been, and probably were, places of defence against an invading foe. xxv. 16. The apprehension of Jacob that the Canaanites and Perizzites would gather themselves together and destroy him and his house, on account of the treacherous conduct of his sons. xxxiv. 30; and the reason given why they did not do this, shows clearly that war was not uncommon in those days. The covenant between Abraham and Abimelech, and that between Laban and Jacob were evidently intended to prevent such an occurrence. That the military forces of those times were subject to some system,
seems indicated by the mention of Phicol, the chief captain of Abimelech's host. The captain of the guard, was an officer in Egypt. The incidental allusion to the "digging down of walls" and "putting the hand on the neck of enemies," and "instruments of cruelty," seem to have in view warlike operations. xxi. 22; xxxvii. 36; xlix. 5, 6, 8.
154. Some sort of government is essential in any form of society. In the age of which we are writing, the patriarchal seems to have been the prevailing form. The father was the presiding sovereign over his family, including his own children, and, to some extent, his grand children. And even when a son had a family which he was expected to govern, he still felt bound to regard the wishes of his father. The kings that ruled over the cities mentioned in chapter fourteenth, were both civil and military rulers. They are called "kings," while Abraham is not so desig nated, yet he was doubtless so regarded by others. And the part he took in the war as leader of his "trained servants," shows that he occupied the same position.
155. The government of Egypt shows a more advanced state of society than that of Canaan. Pharaoh was king, and he had his subordinate princes, his harem, his chief butler and baker, his magicians and wise men, his captain of the guard, his state prison and his gallows; and surely the last named appendages have always been regarded as evidences of civilization. xii. 15, 19; xl. 1; xli. 19; xli. 2; xxxix. 20; xl. 19.
That the officers of government in Egypt were distinguished by some badge of authority, is plain from what is said of the ring of Pharaoh, the vestures of fine linen, and the golden chain, that were put upon
Joseph. xli. 42, 43. When such personages were visited by persons from a distance, asking for favors, it was customary to bring to them, as presents, the choicest productions of the country; not so much, it is presumed, on account of the value of the present, as the respect and deference thus shown to the prince. There is an allusion to the sceptre," " which is a requisite accompaniment, of the exercise of kingly power. xliii. 11; xlix. 10.
156. Lot "sat in the gate" of the city of Sodom. Did he not sit there to administer justice? We know that this language has this meaning at a later day. Did not the mob that surrounded his house, on that memorable night, the last in the history of that city, have in view the exercise of authority by Lot, when they said, "this one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge ;" and was it not the administration of that good man, by which he sought to restrain their wild and reckless career, that mainly excited their displeasure? Men are seldom so bad as to commit outrages, such as are here described, without some plausible excuse. The one their language would seem to imply, is, that he had assumed to exercise more authority over them than was proper for a stranger. xix. 1-9. The judge sat at the gate of the city to exercise authority, that being a conspicuous place; and there, too, for the same reason, were contracts entered into. xix. 1; xxiii. 10; xxiv. 60; xxxiv. 20.
157. The only specific punishment for any specific crime mentioned in reference to this subject, as connected with Canaan and the patriarchs, is the punishment of death for harlotry. The punishment, however, is only named, not being inflicted, on account of palliating circumstances. xxxviii. 24. The imprisonment of Joseph was in Egypt, and has reference to that country. It was obviously not what it would have been, had there not been suspicions of his innocence.