« AnteriorContinuar »
God did signify to him his order to leave his couilt try. Moses, when speaking of the first removal from Ur, in the passage just alluded to, does not mention its being done by divine command. But the objection immediately vanishes, when we find Moses in another place supplying this very omission : “ And he said unto him, (Abraham) I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it." Gen. 15 ch. 7. v.
The next verse to which I would direct your attention, is the 6th : “ God spake on this wise, that his (Abraham's) seed should sojourn in a strange land ; and that they should bring them into bond. age, and entreat them evil four hundred years." You are not to suppose that one and the samo country (Egypt) is meant through this entire passage : the meaning (according to most commentators) is, that Abraham and his posterity should sojourn in strange lands, or continue in a state of migration during the whole period ; and that some of those countries should hold them in bondage, and evil entreat them for a great part of that time. Which was the case : for in the earlier period, during the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and almost the whole of Jacob, they sojourned in different parts of Canaan or Palestine, without suffering much oppression ; whereas after that time, they had removed to Egypt, and there were treated as slaves,
and suffered cruel severities under their task-masters. The caution I now give you is even more necessary in reading the parallel passage in the book of Exodus ; “now the sojourning of the chil. dren of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hun. dred and thirty years.” One might suppose this whole time to have been spent in Egypt; but from what you have just heard, you see it was otherwise. And it was to avoid this mistake, that we are told the Samaritans have added other words to the text now quoted, so that with them it runs thus : “ Now the inhabiting of the children of Israel, and their fathers whereby they inhabited in the land of Canaan, and in the land of Egypt, were 430 years.”
There are two passages more which require explanation, as containing accounts not strictly agree. able to what we read in other parts of Scripture. One is in the 14th verse, “ Then sent Joseph and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.” Now Moses says, 6 All the souls which came into Egypt, were threescore and ten." Gen. 46, 27. But Moses, we are to observe, speaks of those only which came out of Jacob's loins; St. Stephen of all his household, including his son's wives. The former also takes into his account Jacob himself, Joseph and his two sons, as is plain from comparing the verse in Genesis immediately going before with this here cit. ed; the latter excludes these four and two children,
Hesron and Hamal, not yet born. So that the true number of persons actually in being, descended from Jacob's loins, who came with him into Egypt, were threescore and four, to whom if we add the wives of his eleven sons, the amount is exactly what is stated by St. Stephen. The other passage contained in the 16th verse, is attended with more difficulty: “ Jacob went down into Egypt and died, he and our fathers, and were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.” Now Jacob was not buried at Sychem, but in the cave of Macphela, purchased by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite ; and Sychem was not purchased by Abraham but by Jacob. I know of no solution of this difficulty, unłess by supposing something has by mistake been omitted, or changed, which would have clearly pointed out the respective places of burial, Macphelah for Jacob, and most probably Sychem for Joseph, and the other Patriarchs.
After having touched upon some leading facts in the history of the Patriarchs, from which may be collected proofs, as well of their forefathers' misconduct, especially an hardness of heart toward their own flesh and blood, as of the particular care and good providence of God toward pious and good men among them, such as Abraham and Jo.seph ; St. Stephen comes down to the time of
Moses, of whose history, character, and conduct, he gives a much more full and particular account than of the rest. Considering the objects he had in view, nothing could be more proper. For in the first place, this great lawgiver being deservedly held in eminent authority, every thing relating to him was likely to make a strong impression on their minds. It was not possible for them to acquit the conduct of their nation toward this benefactor, when having offered himself as the deliverer from their bondage and oppressions, his kind and benevolent intentions were returned with insult and scorn, “Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us ?"
And so much enmity was conceived against him, that he was forced to fly his country into a strange land. Now Jesus Christ came to deliver them from a much greater than Egyptian bondage, from the power of Satan to the living God. How had they behaved to this mighty deliverer? They had despised, rejected, mocked and crucified him. Upon the first visit of Moses to his brethren, he came without any visible divine authority : We are therefore less surprised at their folly and ingratitude at that time. But Christ Jesus, from his first appearance in the character of their instructor and lawgiver, proved his commission from Heaven by such signs and wonders, as no man could do except God were with him. So that whether we consider the dignity of the persons,
or the degrees of punishment inflicted on them, the later Jews had infinitely more guilt than their fathers; whom yet they condemned for being partakers in the blood of the prophets. How blind are men to their own faults ; how quicksighted to those of others ! ready, as our Lord says, to behold the mote in their brother's eye, yet slow and stupid to behold the beam that is in their own! Can this wise and just observation be more clearly and fully exemplified than in the conduct now mentioned ? It is like David, denouncing judgment and vengeance against the spoil of a lamb, while his own conscience was stained with adultery and reeking with blood. So in the present instance, the Jews freely censured their forefathers for their slight misdemeanour toward Moses, at the very time they were justifying the most iniquitous and cruel sentence ever pronounced against the most innocent, beneficent, forgiving and truly divine person that ever appeared in the world.
Again, the speech charges upon the ancient people of the Jews, that after Joses “ had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red Sea, and in the Wilderness," they “ would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt ; saying unto Aaron, make “ us gods to go before us." Here was a sad yet just account of stubbornness and rebellion, which no doubt the whole audience, whom