Imágenes de páginas

a more effectual method to extirpate the Hebrews: and therefore he gave charge* to all his people, that every son that should be born to them should be thrown into the river. This cruel edict for drowning all the male children must needs be very afflicting to the Hebrew parents, and put them upon many a thoughtful contrivance to preserve their infants; of which an instance soon occurred; for one Amram, of the house of Levi, having married a daughter of the same family, named Jochebed, had by her a daughter, whose name was Miriam, and four years afterwards a son, whom they called Aaron. About three years after Aaron's birth, Jochebed was delivered of another son, who being a child of most elegant beauty, something supernatural and divine appearing in his form, his mother was the more solicitous for his preservation. Wherefore she kept him concealed in her house three months; but not being able to secrete him any longer, and fearing he might fall into the hands of those that were appointed to drown the male children, she contrived a way to save him, by making a little ark or boat of bulrushes, which she covered with pitch and slime, to keep out the water, and putting the child into it, she laid it among the flags by the river side, and set his sister Miriam at a distance to observe what became of him. But propitious providence soon interposes, and eases his anxious parent of her care; for Thermuthis,‡

Charge. This inhuman edict is supposed by commentators to be so abhorred by the Egyptians, that they scarcely ever put it in execution; and that it was recalled immediately after the death of Amenophthis, then king of Egypt, who enacted it; which time Eusebius and others place in the fourth year of Moses.

+ We are informed, Heb. xi. 23. that it was " by faith" that Moses was hidden by his parents-they had a firm dependence on the promises of God concerning the deliverance of their people from Egypt, which was strengthened by the dying testimony of Joseph, wno commanded his bones to be carried with them when they should depart.

Thermuthis. So Josephus calls her; and from him Philo, who adds, that she was the king's only daughter and heiress; and that having been some time married, but having no child, she pretended to be pregnant, and to be delivered

[ocr errors]

Pharaoh's only daughter, coming to the river to bathe herself, her maids looking for a retirement for that purpose, discovered the ark with the child in it, which Thermuthis commanding them to bring to her, she no sooner uncovered the child, than it made its mournful complaint to her in a flood of tears. The unexpectedness of the accident, and the extraordinary beauty of the child, moved the Egyptian princess with compassion, which she expressed in an accent of pity, saying, "This is some He"brew child, which the parents have hid to preserve him "from the king's severe edict."

By this time little Miriam, the child's sister, had crowded herself in among the attendants of the princess, and observing with what tenderness she looked upon the child, very officiously offered her service to procure an Hebrew nurse for him: which the princess accepting, the girl hastens to her mother, and brings her to the place, where she receives, the child from the princess, who engaged to pay her for her care. This was no doubt a welcome bargain to the mother; who, taking the child home with her, was now at liberty to nurse it openly without apprehension, having a royal protection for his security.

Some time after, probably when he was weaned, his mother brought him to court, to shew him to the princess, and to satisfy her how he had improved under her care; who became so partial to him, that she adopted him for her son; and in remembrance that she had drawn

of Moses; whom she acknowledged as her own son. Agreeable to which is what the Apostle to the Heb. (xi. 24.) says, That when Moses was grown up, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; from whence it is plain he was esteemed as such. And if any one should ask, why he did not, in right of his mother, succeed to the kingdom? it may reasonably be answered, that the fraud of his adopted mother, and his own adoption, being detected, he could pretend no right to the crown of Egypt.

Son. The Jews observe that whoever brings up a pupil in his house is in Scripture said to have begotten him. And thus it is said, Exod. ii. 10. That Moses was the son of Pharaoh's daughter, though she had only taken care of his education.

him out of the water, she called his name Moses;* and to render him an accomplished person, she kept him at court, where he was instructed in all the learningt and discipline used among the Egyptians both civil and military, and in all things requisite and becoming the character and quality of a prince of the blood.

Moses being forty years old, left the court, and went to see his brethren; and when he reflected on the oppression they laboured under, it affected him with compassion and indignation to see the servants of the most High God subjected to a servitude exceeding that of brutes. This was increased by an opportunity that just then offered; which was, an Egyptian striking an Hebrew. This inflamed the zeal of Moses, who looking around to see whether any man was within sight, he chastises the Egyptian, making him expiate his barbarity to the injured Hebrew with his blood; and afterwards buried him in the sand; supposing by his taking upon him thus to administer justice,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Moses. At his circumcision, says Clemens Alexandrinus, his parents called him Joachim, (that is, the resurrection of the Lord,) from a presaging hope, that the Lord, through him, would raise up his people Israel, deliver them from the Egyptian bondage they were then in, and bring them again to the promised land.

Learning. From hence, no doubt, it was that St. Stephen, Acts vii. 22. said of Moses, that he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. Which, as likewise several other things, not being read in the Old Testament, are taken out of other records of the Jews. And both Josephus, lib. 2. and Clemens Alexandrinus, lib. 1. report of Moses, That he was General of the Egyptian forces, obtained a great victory over the Ethiopians, and did many other great things before he visited his brethren.

[ocr errors]

Blood. The critics are at great variance about this action of Moses, some blaming, others justifying him. In the first place, we find Moses no where in holy Scripture blamed for this, but rather the contrary; for St. Stephen, Aets vii. 25. gives a fair handle to justify him as having power to do justice on the criminal Egyptian, he having before that time been endowed with the title and office of Deliverer of the people of God. This indeed the text before cited very much faOthers object, That it was very unreasonable for Moses to kill the Egyptian for merely striking one of the Hebrews. In answer to this the Hebrews say, That the Jew, whom the Egyptian struck, was husband to one Salomith, a very


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

that his brethren would have understood that God, by his hand would have delivered them; but they understood him not. However, the next day he went out, and shewed himself among them again; and finding two men of the Hebrews quarrelling, he endeavoured to reconcile them, putting them in mind that they were brethren; and with some smartness reprehending the aggressor, he demanded for what reason he thus attacked the other? The man thrusting him away with disdain, replies, "Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to "kill me, as you did the Egyptian yesterday?" Moses was startled at this; for finding that his killing the Egyp tian, notwithstanding his circumspection, was no longer a secret, he bethinks himself of his security; concluding that if the death of the Egyptian should reach Pharaoh's ear, he should surely die for it. Whereupon he left Egypt, and retired to Midian.


Though this affair proved the immediate occasion of his forsaking the Egyptian court, yet we are assured by St. Paul, Heb. xi. 24-26, that his determination to retire from all its promising advantages, was the effect of a divine principle implanted in his mind. It was "by faith," saith the inspired commentator on his history, that Moses when he was come to years, refused to be "called the son of Pharaoh's daughter." This determi nation naturally excites our wonder, for it is uncommon to see men forego ease, pleasure, and splendor.



beautiful woman, whom the Egyptian had debauched. And that therefore Moses slew the Egyptian, not for striking the Hebrew, but for the adultery, which he discovered from them whilst they were quarrelling. Others urge, that not all things are related here, which leave room for some conjecture; thus some say, perhaps the Egyptian had almost killed the Hebrew, and that Moses could no other way than by force keep him off: Or that the Egyptian attacked Moses, and so he was forced to kill him in his own defence.

• Understood. See Acts vii. 25. where this is positively expressed by St. Stephen.

[blocks in formation]

Moses had also the prospect of elevation to a throne; but he acted on a principle, which rendered those considerations of no weight. Having been well instructed in the covenant of God with Abraham and his seed, and in the promise of the Saviour, who was to descend from Abraham, he was resolved to take his lot with his own people, whatever reproach or danger he might incur with them, being fully assured that they should be rescued from their present bondage; and, probably, assured also, by some intimations from heaven, that he should become the instrument of their emancipation. On this arduous of fice however he was not yet to enter, as perhaps he might too rashly suppose, when he acted as a magistrate in the affair just mentioned; but by a long retirement from the dissipation of a court, in the fields of Midian, he was to acquire a preparation for the important part he was to act as the deliverer of his nation.

It was in the solitude of Midian that he discovered the happy station where Majesty, guarded only with rural innocence, submitted to the humble office of a shepherd, and a crook, instead of a sceptre, graced the peaceful monarch's hand. Here Jethro, first in quality, both of prince and priest, enjoyed the blessings of a quiet reign; whose daughters laid aside the distinction of their birth to feed their father's flocks, and took more delight in the innocent and useful employment of tending their sheep, than in the luxurious gaiety of a court.

In the plains of Midian there was a well, common to all the inhabitants of the place to water their cattle. Hither Moses directed his steps, as well to rest himself, as allay his thirst; where, while he was refreshing himself, the seven daughters of the prince of Midian came to draw water to fill the troughs for their sheep; but some churlish shepherds, determined to serve themselves first, came rudely and put the royal shepherdesses aside. Moses seeing this, steps in to their relief, and chastised the insolent peasants. The affrighted damsels returned to the wells, and Moses courteously assists them in drawing wa ter for their flocks: after which they took their leave, and

« AnteriorContinuar »