Alfred Edersheim.

The Bible history (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 18)
Online LibraryAlfred EdersheimThe Bible history (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

NOV 5 1910

Division "B^W'^I



i NOV 5 191(1 r






author of

"The World before the Flood, and the History of the Patriarchs;'

"The Temple, its Ministry and Services," etc.


56 Paternoster Row, 65 St. Paul's Churchyard,
And 164 Piccadilly,

manchestfr: corporation street, Brighton: western koad.

Uniform with this Work.

TORY OF THE PATRIARCHS. By the Rev. Dr. Eders-
HEiM. With Map, crown 8vo. 7.S. 6d. cloth boards.

" The author evinces learning, power of arrangement, and, what
is far better, an earnest, reverent spirit." — John Bull.

"Dr. Edersheim always writes with clearness and force. He
has here found a subject which is very suitable to his style. He
brings learning to bear on his theme with great freshness ; and
contrives always to be interesting." — The A oncon/ormist.

By the same Author.
THE TEMPLE: its Mimstkv and Services at the Time
OF Jesus Christ. Imperial i6mo. Handsomely bound, 5J.
cloth boards.

"The first thing that strikes the reader is the author's mastery of
the subject. He knows the varied topics he discusses better than
most scholars in England : is able to correct the mistakes of critics,
and to supply accurate information. The style, too, is clear and
good, sometimes very graphic, as in the concluding pages of the
excellent chapter on the Passover. There are few who will not
learn from a volume which has the results, with little of the show of
learning." — The At/tenceum.

"A vast amount of learning has been brought to a focus in this
little book. The result is the very best compendium which we have
yet seen of information of this kind. The paper, type, and general
appearance are faultless." — Literary Churchman.



T^HE period covered by the central books of the Pentateuch is, in
^ many respects, the most important in Old Testament history,
not only so far as regards Israel, but the Church at all times.
Opening with centuries of silence and seeming Divine forgetfulness
during the bondage of Egypt, the pride and power of Pharaoh are
suddenly broken by a series of miracles, culminating in the deliver-
ance of Israel and the destruction of Egypt's host. In that Paschal
night and under the blood-sprinkling, Israel as a nation is born of
God, and the redeemed people are then led forth to be consecrated at
the Mount by ordinances, laws, and judgments. Finally, we are
shown the manner in which Jehovah deals with His people, both in
judgment and in mercy, till at the last He safely brings them to the
promised inheritance. In all this we see not only the history of the
ancient people of God, but also a grand type of the redemption and
the sanctification of the Church. There is yet another aspect of it,
since this narrative exhibits the foundation of the Church in the
Covenant of God, and also the principles of Jehovah's government
for all time. For, however great the difference in the development,
the essence and character of the covenant of grace are ever the
same. The Old and New Testaments are essentially one — not two
covenants but one, gradually unfolding into full perfectness, "Jesus
Christ Himself being the chief corner stone" of the foundation
which is alike that of the apostles and prophets.^

There is yet a further consideration besides the intrinsic

1 Eph. ii. 20.

4 Preface.

importance of this histor)\ It has, especially of late, been so
boldly misrepresented, and so frequently misunderstood, or else it is
so often cursorily read — neither to understanding nor yet to profit —
that it seemed desirable to submit it anew to special investigation,
following the sacred narrative consecutively from Chapter to
Chapter, and almost from Section to Section. In so doing, I have
endeavoured to make careful study of the original text, with the
help of the best critical appliances. So far as I am conscious,
I have not passed by any real difficulty, nor yet left unheeded
any question that had a reasonable claim to be answered. If this
implied a more detailed treatment, I hope it may also, with God's
blessing, render the volume more permanently useful. Further, it
has been my aim, by the aid of kindred studies, to shed additional
light upon the narrative, so as to render it vivid and pictorial, en-
abling readers to realise for themselves the circumstances under
which an event took place. Thus I have in the first two chapters
sought to read the history of Israel in Egypt by the light of its
monuments, and also to portray the political, social, and religious
state of the people prior to the Exodus. Similarly, when following
the wanderings of Israel up to the eastern bank of the Jordan, I
have availed myself of the best recent geographical investigations,
that so the reader might, as it were, see before him the route
followed by Israel, the scenery, and all other accessories.

It need scarcely be said, that in studying this narrative the
open Bible should always be at hand. But I may remind my-
self and others, that the only real understanding of any portion
of Holy Scripture is that conveyed to the heart by the Spirit of God.
And, indeed, throughout, my great object has been, not to supersede
the constant and prayerful use of the Bible itself, but rather to lead
to those Scriptures, which alone " are able to make wise unto
salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

A. E.

IlENiACH, Bournemouth :
February^ 1876.





Egypt and its History during the Stay of the Chil-
dren OF Israel, as Illustrated by the Bible and
Ancient Monuments 9


The Children of Israel in Egypt — Their Residences, •
Occupations, Social Arrangements, Constitution,
and Religion — "A new King who knew not Joseph" 24.


The Birth, and the Training of Moses, both in Egypt

and in Midian, as Preparatory to his Calling . 35


The Call of Moses — The Vision of the Burning Bush —
The Commission to Pharaoh and to Israel — The
three " Signs," and their Meaning ....



Moses Returns into EoYPTr— The Dismissal of Zipporah
— Moses meets Aaron — Their Reception by the
Children of Israel — Remarks on the Hardening of
Pharaoh's Heart 55



Moses and Aaron deliver their Message to Pharaoh —
Increased Oppression of Israel — Discouragement of
Moses — Aaron shows a Sign— General View and
Analysis of each of the Ten *' Strokes," or Plagues 63


The Passover and its Ordinances — The Children of
Israel leave Egypt— Their First Resting-places —
The Pillar of Cloud and of Fire — Pursuit of
Pharaoh — Passage through the Red Sea— Destruc-
tion OF Pharaoh and his Host — The Song "on the
other side " 78

%Vt SEanbcrmg^ in the SBilberne^^.


The Wilderness of Shur — The Sinaitic Peninsula — Its
Scenery and Vegetation — Its Capabilities of Sup-
porting A Population — The Wells of Moses — Three
Days' March to Marah— Elim— Road to the Wil-
derness OF Sin— Israel's Murmuring— The Miracu-
lous Provision of the Quails — The Manna . . 89


Rephidim— The Defeat of Amalek, and its meaning —
The Visit of Jethro and its symbolical import . 98


Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai — The Preparations
for the Covenant — Thk "Ten Words," and thktr
meaning IC5



Civil and Social Ordinances of Israel as the People
OF God — Their Religious Ordinances in their
National Aspect — The "Covenant made by Sacri-
fice," and the Sacrificial Meal of Acceptance . 114


The Pattern seen on the Mountain — The Tabernacle,
the Priesthood, and the Services in their Arrange-
ment AND Typical Meaning — The Sin of the Golden
Calf — The Divine Judgment — The Plea of Moses —
God's gracious Forgiveness — The Vision of the Glory
OF the Lord vouchsafed to Moses .... 121


Moses a Second Time on the Mount — On his Return
his Face shineth — The Rearing of the Tabernacle
— Its Consecration by the seen Presence of
Jehovah 133


Analysis of the Book of Leviticus — The Sin of Nadab

and Abihu — Judgment upon the Blasphemer . . 137


Analysis of the Book of Numbers— The Numbering of
Israel, and that of the Levites — Arrangement of
THE Camp, and its Symbolical Import — The March 143


The Offerings of the "Princes" — The setting apart
of the Levites — Second Observance of the Pass-
over 152




Departure from Sinai — March into the Wilderness
OF Paran — At Taberah and Kibroth-hattaavah


Murmuring of Miriam and Aaron — The Spies sent to
Canaan— Their "Evil Report" — Rebellion of the
People, and Judgment pronounced upon them — The
Defeat of Israel "unto Hormah" . . . .163


The Thtrty-eight Years in the Wilderness — The
Sabbath-breaker — The Gainsaying of Korah and of
his Associates — Murmuring of the People ; the
Plague, and how it was stayed — Aaron's Rod

BUDDING, blossoming, AND BEARING FrUIT . . . I7I


The Second Gathering of Israel in Kadesh — The Sin
OF Moses and Aaron — Embassy to Edom — Death of
Aaron — Retreat of Israel from the borders of
Edom — Attack by the Canaanitish King of Arad . 184

Journey of the Children of Israel in "compassing"


"Brazen Serpent" — Israel enters the land of
the Amorites — Victories over Sihon and over Og,
the kings of the Amorites and of Bashan — Israel

CAMPS IN " the lowlands OF MOAB," CLOSE BY THE

Jordan .••••••••. 193


Mt::, iVlAR1882



€iJBP^t anb its ^istorg iburinij the §>in^ xrf the Children
ijf Israel, as Ulustratei) hg the ^ible mxb ^nrient

(Exodus i. 1-7.)

THE devout Student of history cannot fail to recognise it as
a wonderful arrangement of Providence, that the begin-
ning and the close of Divine revelation to mankind were both
connected with the highest intellectual culture of the world.
When the apostles went forth into the Roman world, they
could avail themselves of the Greek language, then universally
spoken, of Grecian culture and modes of thinking. And what
Greece was to the world at the time of Christ, that and much
more had Egypt been when the children of Israel became a
God-chosen nation. Not that in either case the truth of God
needed help from the wisdom of this world. On the contrary,
in one sense, it stood opposed to it. And yet while history
pursued seemingly its independent course, and philosophy,
science, and the arts advanced apparently without any reference
to Revelation, all were in the end made subservient to the
furtherance of the kingdom of God. And so it always is. God
marvellously uses natural means for supernatural ends, and
maketh all things work tog^ether to His glory as well as for the
good of His people.

10 The Exodus.

It was, indeed, as we now see it, most important that the
children of Israel should have been brought into Egypt, and
settled there for centuries before becoming an independent
nation. The early history of the sons of Jacob must have
shown the need alike of their removal from contact with the
people of Canaan, and of their being fused in the furnace of
affliction, to prepare them for inheriting the land promised unto
their fathers. This, however, might have taken place in any
other country than Egypt. Not so their training for a nation.
For that, Egypt offered the best, or rather, at the time, the only
suitable opportunities. True, the stay there in\olved also
pecuhar dangers, as their after history proved. But these would
have been equally encountered under any other circumstances,
while the benefits they derived through intercourse with the
Egyptians were peculiar and unique. There is yet another
aspect of the matter. When standing before King Agrippa,
St. Paul could confidently appeal to the publicity of the history
of Christ, as enacted not in some obscure corner of a barbarous
land, but in full view of the Roman world : " For this thing
was not done in a corner."^ And so Israel's bondage also and
God's marvellous deliverance took place on no less conspicuous
a scene than that of the ancient world-empire of Egypt.

Indeed, so close was the connection between Israel and
Egypt, that it is impossible properly to understand the history
of the former without knowing something of the latter. We
shall therefore devote this preliminary chapter to a brief
description of Egypt. In general, however historians may differ
as to the periods when particular events had taken place, the
land itself is full of reminiscences of Israel's story. These have
been brought to light by recent researches, which almost year
by year add to our stock of knowledge. And here it is specially
remarkable, that every fresh historical discovery tends to shed
light upon, and to confirm the Biblical narratives. Yet some
of the principal arguments against the Bible were at one time
derived from the supposed history of Egypt ! Thus while
* Acts xxvi. 26.

Egyptian Papyri illustrating Scripture. ii

men continually raise fresh objections against Holy Scripture,
those formerly so confidently relied upon have been removed
by further researches, made quite independently of the Bible,
just as an enlarged knowledge will sweep away those urged in
our days. Already the Assyrian monuments, the stone which
records the story of Moab,^ the temples, the graves, and the
ancient papyri of Egypt have been made successively to tell
each its own tale, and each marvellously bears out the truth of
the Scripture narrative. Let us see what we can learn from
such sources of the ancient state of Egypt, so far as it may serve
to illustrate the history of Israel.

The connection between Israel and Egypt may be said to have
begun with the visit of Abram to that country. On his arrival
there he must have found the people already in a high state of
civilisation. The history of the patriarch gains fresh light by
monuments and old papyri. Thus a papyrus (now in the British
Museum), known as The Two Brothers^ and which is probably
the oldest work of fiction in existence, proves that Abram had
occasion for fear on account of Sarai. It tells of a Pharaoh, who
sent two armies to take a fair woman from her husband and then
to murder him. Another papyrus (at present in Berlin) records
how the wife and children of a foreigner were taken from him
by a Pharaoh. Curiously enough, this papyrus dates from
nearly the time when the patriarch was in Egypt. From this
period also we have a picture in one of the tombs, representing
the arrival of a nomad chief, like Abram, with his family and
dependants, who seek the protection of the prince. The new-
comer is received as a person of distinction. To make the
coincidence the more striking — though this chief is not thought
to have been Abram — he is evidently of Semitic descent, wears
a " coat of many colours," is designated Hyk^ or prince, the
equivalent of the modern Sheich^ or chief of a tribe, and even
bears the name of Ab-shah, " father of sand," a term resembling
that of Ab-raham^ the "father of a multitude."^ Another

' 2 Kings iii.

- We have here to refer to the masterly essay on "The Bearings of

12 The Exodus,

Egyptian story — that of Sancha, " the son of the sycomoie,"
• — reminds us so far of that of Joseph, that its hero is a foreign
nomad, who rises to the highest rank at Pharaoh's court and
becomes his chief counsellor. These are instances how
Egyptian history illustrates and confirms that of the Bible.

Of the forced employment of the children of Israel in
building and repairing certain cities, we have, as will presently
be shown, sufficient confirmation in an Egyptian inscription
lately discovered. We have also a pictorial representation of
Semitic captives, probably Israelites, making bricks in the manner
described in the Bible ; and yet another, dating from a later
reign, in which Israelites — either captives of war, or, as has been
recently suggested, mercenaries who had stayed behind after
the Exodus — are employed for Pharaoh in drawing stones, or
cutting them in the quarries, and in completing or enlarging the
fortified city of Rameses, which their fathers had formerly
built. The builders delineated in the second of these repre-
sentations are expressly called Aperu^ the close correspondence
of the name with the designation Hebrew^ even in its English
form, being apparent. Though these two sets of representations
date, in all probability, from a period later than the Exodus,
they remarkably illustrate what we read of the state and the
occupations of the children of Israel during the period of their
oppression. Nor does this exhaust the bearing of the Egyptian
monuments on the early history of Israel. In fact, we can
trace the two histories almost contemporaneously, and see how
remarkably the one sheds light upon the other.

In general, our knowledge of Egyptian history is derived
from the monufnents^ of which we have already spoken, from
certain references in Greek historians^ which are not of much
value, and especially from the historical work of Mandho^
an Egyptian priest who wrote about the year 250 B.C. At

Egyptian History upon the Pentateuch," appended to vol. i. of what is
commonly known as The Speaker's Covimentary. For an engraving of this
remarkable fresco, see The Land of the Pharaohs: Egypt and Sina/,
Jlliistrated by Pen and Pc7icil, p. 102 (Religious Tract Society).

Egyptian History. 13

that time the monuments of Egypt were still almost intact.
Manetho had access to them all; he was thoroughly con-
versant with the ancient literature of his country, and he
wrote under the direction and patronage of the then monarch
of the land. Unfortunately, however, his work has been lost,
and the fragments of it preserved exist only in the distorted
form which Josephus has given them for his own purposes, and
in a chronicle, written by a learned Christian convert of the
third century {Julius Africa?ms). But this latter also has been
lost, and we know it only from a similar work written a
century later (by Eusebius^ bishop of Caesarea), in which
the researches of Africanus are embodied.^ Such are the
difficulties before the student ! On the other hand, both
Africanus and Eusebius gathered their materials in Egypt itself,
and were competent for their task ; Africanus, at least, had the
work of Manetho before him ; and, lastly, by universal consent,
the monuments of Egypt remarkably confirm what were the
undoubted statements of Manetho. Like most heathen chro-
nologies, Manetho's catalogue of kings begins with gods, after
which he enumerates thirty dynasties, bringing the history
down to the year 343 B.C. Now some of these dynasties were
evidently not successive, but contemporary, that is, they present
various lines of kings who at one and the same time ruled over
different portions of Egypt. This especially applies to the
so-called 7th, 8th, 9th, loth, and nth dynasties. It is wholly
impossible to conjecture what period of time these may have
occupied. After that we have more solid ground. We know
that under the 12th dynasty the whole of Egypt was united
under one sway. As we gather from the monuments, the
country was in a very high state of prosperity and civilisation.
At the beginning of this dynasty we suppose the visit of
Abram to have taken place. The reign of this 12th dynasty
lasted more than two centuries,^ and either at its close or at the

' Even this exists only in its Armenian translation, not in the original.
* We must again refer those who wish fuller information to the essay
already mentioned, the conclusions of which we have virtually adopted.

14 The Exodus,

beginning of the 13th dynasty we place the accession and rule
of Joseph. From the fourth king of the 13th to the accession
of the 1 8th dynasty Egyptian history is almost a blank. That
period was occupied by the rule of the so-called Hyksos, or
Shepherd kings, a foreign and barbarous race of invaders, hated
and opposed by the people, and hostile to their ancient civili-
sation and religion. Although Josephus represents Manetho
as assigning a very long period to the reign of " the Shepherds,"
he gives only six names. These and these only are corroborated
by Egyptian monuments, and we are warranted in inferring that
these alone had really ruled over Egypt. The period occupied
by their reign might thus amount to between two and three
centuries, which agrees with the Scripture chronology.

" The Shepherds" were evidently an eastern race, and probably
of Phenician origin. Thus the names of the two first kings in
their Ust are decidedly Semitic {Salatis, " mighty," " ruler," and
Beon, or Benon, " the son of the eye," or, the " beloved one ") ;
and there is evidence that the race brought with it the worship
of Baal and the practice of human sacrifices — both of Phenician
origin. It is important to keep this in mind, as we shall see
that there had been almost continual warfare between the J^he-
nicians along the west coast of Palestine and the Hittites, and the
native Egyptian kings, who, while they ruled, held them in
subjection. This constant animosity also explains why, not
without good reason, " every shepherd was an abomination "
unto the real native Egyptians.^ It also explains why the
Shepherd kings left the Israelitish shepherds unmolested in the
land of Goshen, where they found them. Thus a comparison
of Scripture chronology with the history of Ejypt, and the
evidently peaceful, prosperous state of the country, united
under the rule of one king, as described in the Bible, lead us to
the conclusion that Joseph's stay there must have taken place
at the close of the 12th, or, at latest, at the commencement of
the 13th dynasty. He could not have come during the rule of
the Hyksos, for then Egypt was in a distracted, divided, and
» Gen. xlvi. 34.

The Ancie7tt Religion of Egypt. 15

chaotic state; and it could not have been later, for after the
Shepherd kings had been expelled and native rulers restored,
no " new king," no new dynasty, " arose up over Egypt." On
the other hand, the latter description exactly applies to a king
who, on his restoration, expelled the Hyksos.

And here the monuments of Egypt again afford remarkable
confirmation of the history of Joseph. For one thing, the
names of three of the Pharaohs of the 13th dynasty bear a
striking resemblance to that given by the Pharaoh of the Bible
to Joseph (Zaphnath-paaneah). Then we know that the Pharaohs
of the 12 th dynasty stood in a very special relationship to the
priest city of On,^ and that its high-priest was most probably
always a near relative of Pharaoh. Thus the monuments of
that period enable us to understand the history of Joseph's
marriage. But they also throw light on a question of far
greater importance — how so devout and pious a servant of the
Lord as Joseph could have entered into such close relationship
with the priesthood of Egypt. Here our knowledge of the
most ancient religion of Egypt enables us to furnish a complete
answer. Undoubtedly, all mankind had at first some know-
ledge of the one true God, and a pure religion inherited from
Paradise. This primeval religion seems to have been longest
preserved in Egypt. Every age indeed witnessed fresh cor-
ruptions, till at last that ot Egypt became the most abject
superstition. But the earliest Egyptian religious records, as
preserved in that remarkable work. The Ritual for the Dead,
disclose a different state of things. There can be no doubt
that, divested of all later glosses, they embodied belief in
"the unity, eternity, and self-existence of the unknown Deity,"
in the immortality of the soul, and in future rewards and punish-
ments, and that they inculcated the highest duties of morality.
The more closely we study these ancient records of Egypt,
the more deeply are we impressed with the high and pure
character of its primeval religion and legislation. And when
the children of Israel went into the wilderness, they took, in
* Gen. xli. 45.

1 6 The Exodus.

this respect also, with them from Egypt many lessons which
had not to be learned anew, though this one grand funda-

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryAlfred EdersheimThe Bible history (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 18)