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OBSERVATIONS ON THE BOOK OF NUMBERS.
Ver. 6, 7, 8. To explain these three verses according to the Rabins, grounded on the traditional custom of the nation, I must premise, that a maiden, before she discovers the complete signs of puberty, her father hath a power to engage her in marriage; which if he doth, it constitutes her a married woman; and, before the said marriage is consummated, she is called, in Scripture-phrase, betrothed, and then she becomes her husband's property: never. théless, her father's power over her doth not subside till the marriage is consummated; and, in the mean while, what is said of her husband, in ver. 7, means in conjunction with her father, this being meant as an addition to what is expressed in the fifth verse, as she is not quite out of her father's jurisdiction. But. Aben Ezra understands, that ver. 6, refers to a grown woman, fully married, that had vowed in a former husband's house, or in her father's house, and that her vows had not been made void.
Ver. 9. This, according to traditional explanation, means, that, after her marriage had been consummated, she became a widow, or was divorced, before she could shew the signs of a grown woman; acquainting us by this, that she returns no more to her father's jurisdiction. And indeed, if it should mean otherwise, this verse would be needless'; for, it is well known that she is then her own mistress. However, Aben Ezra refers it to the next verse, acquainting us, that, though she vowed when she was her own mistress, nevertheless we learn, by ver. 10, that her husband has a power to annúl such vows, in the same manner as those she made in his house.
Ver. 10. This the Rabins refer to ver. 6, meaning, when the marriage hath been consummated.
Ver. 13. This is variously nnderstood, some take it as a restriction of the husband's power, which shall reach no farther than to vows wherein he is concerned, or such as tend to afflict herself, as fasting or any other abstinence: but others understand, that even these he may make void, much more other matters of indifference,
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XXXI. This chapter declares the punishment that God would bring upon the Midianites for their vile scheme of prostituting their women, and thereby making Israel to sin: and the reason why the Moabites were spared may be supposed to be their having been moved with fear at having a new nation so near them; for, then, it might appear lawful in them to practise any vile action in their own 'defence, which was not the case with the Midianites. Ver. 16. This is an evident proof of the propriety of my translation of ver. 14,
in chap. xxiv, where I asserted, that the prostitution of their daughters was Balaam's counsel.
Ver. 18. It is supposed, that, as they were infamous for their incontinence, none but very young children were deemed virgins.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XXXII. Ver. 5. Not to go over the Jordan-means, not to give them a possession beyond Jordan.'
Ver. 7. Discourage ye: Hebrew, will ye cuuse to break the heart of the children of Israel; and therefore, having rendered it discourage, heart might be omitted; for, that word sufficiently expresseth to break the heart.
Ver. 1. 5070 always means a brook. Vide chap. xiii. ver. 23, English translation. They discouraged: vide ver. 7.
Ver. 14. minn means a brood, or race. Vide Ezekiel, chap. xix. ver. 2, 177722.000ay, she nourished, or brought up, her whelps.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XXXIV.
Ver. 14. When an accusative, in Hebrew, is at too great a distance from the verb, as it is here, their inheritance, from the verb received, which is the first word in this verse, then Scripture repeats the verb close to the accusative; but, in the English translation, where the verb is close to the accusative, such repetition is needless; and this, not being observed by the English translator, hath led him into an error of niaking a distinction between the halftribe of Manasseh and the other two tribes, which doth not subsist, and thereby he is obliged to add the words their inheritance superfluously, the same not being in the original text.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XXXV. Ver. 4 and 5. These two verses, though they seem, contradictory at first sight, the first giving the Levites a thousand cubits round the city, and the second ordering two thousand cubits to be measured, -yet, considering that, in measurement of land, we have two dimensions, length and breadth, we shall find no contradiction; for, ver. 4, refers to the distance from the city-wall, as there expressed; and the two thousand cubits, mentioned in ver. 5, mean the breadth in a parallel line with the wall. These two thousand cubits mean, besides the
space of the city-wall, one thousand in each corner; as appears by the annexed plan, for 'ver. 5, shonld be translated thus:-" And ye shall measure exclusive of the city, on the eastside, two thousand cubits, &c.:-and the city in the midst, &c.” in which the word en is rendered exclusive of the city, or the space of the city-wall; and so, at the end of the verse, and the city, means the space of the city-wall; and this Hebrew word admits of this version, as well as from without.
'Tem-Air əqi jo abeds
Notwithstanding this explanation, which I understand to be the true meaning of the Hebrew text, where I a judge or governor in the holy land, I should be obliged to act contrary to it, being-restricted to follow the Jewish traditional customs, which are, that they were to have 2000 củbits from the city-wall, the first 1000 for an ornament to the city, and the other for pasture and plantations; which explanation the words of the text may very well bear, leaving out the unwarrantable addition of the English translator in ver. 4, shall reach ; for, according to that explanation, it means, that the suburbs shall begin after the first thousand cubits, which were for ornament; and these are 2000 cubits mentioned in ver. 6.
Ver. 13. Scripture means to order in what manner, or from what part of their land, these six cities should be given, which is particularized in ver. 14.
This Book receives its title from the numbering of the Isruelites in the
second year after they came out of Egypt. The Jews name it 7270, Bymidbur, (In the wilderness ;) as they were numbered in the wilderness of Sinai. It contains, first, the arranging of the children of Israel into separate camps, making four divisions, every one of them abiding under its particular banner; then, the final rearing of the Tabernacle, and the dedication thereof; also, several occasional commands, &c. But they are narrated promiscuously, without having any regard to their regular succession, which appears from the dates annexed to them; for, the first command, with which this book begins, is dated the first day of the second month, in the second year after their 'issuing out of Egypt; and the rearing up of the Tabernacle, which is narrated in chap. vii. was on the first day of the first month in the same year: vide Exodus, chap. xl. ver. 17. And the occasional command concerning the Passover, which must have been before the fourteenth day of the first month, is narrated in chap. ix. However, I think that the date, expressed to this first command, referreth to the arrangement of them into camps, but not to the numeration, which I apprehend was ascertained by the number of Shekels that were taken from the people, by Moses's orders, directly as he came finally down from the mountain, the amount of which agreeth exactly with the numbers of the people in this numeration in chap. 1. ver. 46. Vide Exodus, chap. xxxvIII. ver. 25. But I suppose, that, for this arrangement, it was farther required to take their pedigree, and to separate them according to their tribes; and, for that purpose, Moses appointed twelve princes to regulate it, which required time; and they did not make a return of the same till the second month of the second year; neither was it requisite before the Tabernacle was erected. And, for a farther proof of my assertion, we find in chap. vii. ver. 2, that these princes were appointed over the numeration before the dedication of the Tabernacle. This Book also relates several remarkable events of the historical kind, besides various additional laws relating to civil and religious matters, and comprehends the history of thirtyeight years, though most of the transactions happened either in the first or last year of this interval.
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