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OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. X.
This chapter contains a genealogy of Noah's sons, shewing how all nations sprang from them, and their respective stations in the world. It should be remarked, that, in ver. 11, and 12, the words, “and the city Rehoboth and Calah, and Ressen, between Ninevah and Calah,” shonld be put in a parenthesis, as the words, the same is the great city, refer to Ninevah, mentioned before. It plainly appears from this narrative, that Nimrod was the first that founded the kingdom of Babylon, which must have been about the year 1750 of the Creation; for, the confusion of the languages, narrated in the next chapter, happened in Peleg's days, (this name, which in Hebrew signifies division, having been given him on account of that event, alluding to the division of the land amongst the several families that separated themselves on that account,) probably soon after his birth, as Nimrod was only grandson of Noah, and this Peleg was grandson of Shelah, the grandson of Shein, Noah's son; so' that the event, narrated here, must have been before the birth of Peleg, who was born in the year 1757.
There are various opinions among Expositors concerning the order of the birth of the sons of Noah; but, as we do not consider that any utility can result from the investigation of such subjects, we shall not enter into a discussion of that nature. I shall only observe, that no argument can be drawn, from the order Scripture follows in narrating their genealogy, to prove the order of their birth; for, the method generally followed by Scripture is, to begin with him that is last mentioned in the former sentence, (which here is Japheth as in ver. 1.) and to conclude with him whose history is carried on as far as the establishment of the children of Israel as a nation, that being the principal object in this historical part of Scripture.
Ver. 9. It cannot now be even guessed to what purpose this proverb used to be applied. Ver. 21. This might also be rendered, “the eldest brother of Japheth,”
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XI.
Ver. 5. Which the children of man builded. This must refer to the city, not to the tower.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XII. Ver. 1. When Scripture resumes the history, giving us notice of a prophecy spoken some time before, so that the verb must be rendered in the preter-pluperfect tense, I think there can be no impropriety in mentioning two commands, though given at different times, in one text or speech; for, as they were both ordered before, it is not material to us whether they were given separately or at one time; so that we are left at liberty to judge of it as the sense may direct us; and I have already observed, in the last chapter, that in Ur Casdim he received the command of departing from his country, and in Haran be was ordered to leave his father's house.
Ver. 18. Scripture doth not mention how or by what means Pharaoh knew that these plagues were on account of Sarah's being Abram's wife. Perhaps he found it out by the nature of them, and decency might prevent an explanation.
Ver. 20. This verse does not give the true meaning of the text, but I do not pretend to correct the translation, because the Hebrew words may very well bear it. For, as Moses throughout gives us a high idea of the Patriarchs; so I do not think he would insinuate that Abram was turned away ignominiously, out of Egypt;
the possibility of such a supposition, however, is removed by translating according to the Targum :~" And Pharaoh appointed nien over him, that might accompany him, and his wife, and all that he had :” by which it appears, that he was sent away honourably. Note, This might likewise be as a safe-guard, that the common people might not kill him on account of his wife's beauty.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XIII. Ver. 1. Into the south--means the south part of the country he was going to; as in Numbers, chap. xiii. ver. 17, Moses bids the spies go up by the south, which means the south of the land of Canaan, and not, as translated there in the English Bible, southward, as we shall hereafter observe on that passage. So here this cannot mean southward, for he must have journeyed northward, as it is explained in ver. 3, where it saith, " and he went on bis journeys from the south."
Ver. 12. Ty signities, as far as, and not, towards; and this means that he extended his tents from the cities of the plain as far as Sodom.
Ver. 18. bosny means, and he pitched his tent, not he removed ; and I think that it would be much more eligible to make a transposition in the sentence, than to give a meaning to the verb contrary to its natural sense, it should therefore be rendered thns :" Then Abram having arrived, and tarried, in the plains of Mamre, which is in Hebron, pitched his tent, and built an altar there unto the Lord.”
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XIV.
This chapter gives us the description of a battle that was fought, between four kings, confederates with the king of Shinar, or Babel, against five kings of Sodom. It is a digression from the general history, and only tends to shew us how providence assisted our patriarch, in conquering four kings, to rescue his brother-in-law, Lot; and how ill his posterity, Amon and Moab, recompensed Abraham's posterity in the wilderness. I shall only take notice of some doubts that occur in the narrative, and in the translation, ver. 1, and 9, King of nations might be rendered, king of Goim; for, there might be a nation so called.
Ver. 12. Here the English translator makes a transposition, which I think needless, for it bears a very good meaning without it; viz.-" And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, and his goods, (for he dwelt in Sodom,) and they departed."
Ver. 13. Here the word for is certainly improper; because, this is not a reason alledged why he that escaped came unto him; it should be rendered thus: And there came one, that had escaped, and told Abram, the Hebrew, who dwelt in the plain of Mamre, &c."
Ver. 14. And pursued them unto Dan.-This place is not that which in Joshua is called Lesham, chap. xix. ver. 47, and in Judges, chap. xviii. ver. 29, Laish; which the tribe of Dan took from the Canaanites, and called it by the name of their father, Dan; there was doubtless a place so called in Abram's time, though it is not particularly mentioned.
Ver. 17. After his return from smiting Chedorlaomer, &c.—I think much better than from the slaughter of.
Ver. 1. I understand this whole chapter to be in a prophetic vision, as expressed in this
Ver. 6. This verse may also mean, that Abram deemed this promise from the Lord as a charitable deed, or favorable grant,
Ver. 8. Abram, knowing that all God's promises are conditional, depending on fearing him, and walking in the way of righteousness, unless when an oath or covenant is joined to it, had reason to ask for a token; and that is not called tempting the Lord; but, when he promised him the increase of his posterity, he implicitly gave a belief to it.
Ver. 9. The Hebrew word w means threefold, as we find it in Ecclesiastes, chap. iv. ver. 12.-" and the threefold cord." I do not know why the English translator should imagine that they were to be three years old, rather than three months or three weeks; and, though I do not pretend to conjecture the reason of ordering all these animals three times over, yet, as I find there are three covenants made with Abram,-namely, this on the inheritance of the land, another on the circumcision, and, lastly, on his offering to sacrifice his son Isaac,-this may have been the reason for ordering these things three times over, We observe further, that it is not here mentioned what he was to do with them, though certainly God must have given such direction; it being common in Scripture, for the sake of brevity, to omit, in the introductory part, what cannot fail of being cleared up by the sequel; and, in this instance, we know, by what Abram did, the whole purport of the command.
Ver. 11. These fowls mean the birds of prey that came to devour the carcases; though all this was only a vision, as observed before.
Ver. 13.), I think must stand here for "and they shall serve themselves with them;" for, the nominative must be, "the people of the land wherein they shall be strangers," as it is clearly so as to the other verb, 1, "and they shall afflict them;" the pronoun them referring to the seed of Abram; for, it cannot be the meaning of Scripture that they should serve the seed of Abram.
Ver. 16. This fourth generation means from the beginning of their service.
Ver. 17. 7, is found in Exodus, chap. xx. ver. 18, in the plural number, to signify lightning; and, in Judges, chap, xv. ver. 4, a firebrand; but here it means a flash, like a flame, and serves to convey an idea of the glory of God, or Shechina; and its passing between these pieces seems to be an emblem of the covenant; the mode of making a covenant, among the ancient Hebrews, being to cut a calf in twain, and pass between the parts thereof, as expressed in Jeremiah, chap. xxxiv. ver. 18.
Note. The verb, to cut off, is generally joined to a covenant, and may either allude to the cutting of the calf, or to the final determination of a treaty.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XVI.
Ver. 2. I take this to be rather a condescension than an entreaty, as the translation of the English Bible seems to imply; for, if so, she had no reason to complain against her husband,
as in ver. 5.
Ver. 8. This is merely by way of introduction to a discourse, as observed before; for the angel knew very well every thing concerning her.
Ver. 12. This verse is not intelligible; therefore, I think that the preposition should be rendered in its first natural meaning, which is in.
Note. The Ishmaelites, or Hagarites, were situated in the neighbourhood of Egypt; thus the Egyptians were her brethren, agreeably to this prediction.
Ver. 13. She called the name of the angel El Roi, which gave rise to the name of the well; and this speech of her's intimates her surprise of at seeing there the glory of the Lord, (as she was accustomed to see it at Abram's house,) now that God saw her affliction; for, the meaning of seeing me is, " in my affliction."
Ver. 14. The verb, is here active, future tense, third person singular, from the verb , to Circumcise. It is true, that in ver. 12 and 13, it is passive, from the radix, but here it makes no sense; for, according to the English translation, which renders it passive, the circumstance," whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised," explains nothing more than what was said in the first part of the sentence," and the uncircumcised male child."
But the meaning of this verse is, that, if a father had neglected to circumcise his son, or was prevented from so doing through weakness or sickness in the child, then such child, coming to years of discretion, is obliged to circumcise himself; and if he neglects doing it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people by a divine punishment.
Ver. 21. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac: therefore, the four hundred years, mentioned in chap. xv. ver. 13, are to begin from the birth of Isaac; for, it is that covenant that Scripture saith here that God will establish with Isaac.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XVIII.
Here we are presented with an appearance of the Lord to Abraham, by three angels, in the shape of men. One of them, after Abraham had entertained them, announced to him that he should have a son by Sarah. Then two of them rose up to go to Sodom, and Abraham and the other angel went with them part of the way, to accompany them. Meanwhile this angel, called here the Lord, is said to have communed with himself, see verses 17, 18, and 19. Then the other two separated from them to go to Sodom, though this circumstance is not mentioned till ver. 22, with a view to prevent any interruption in the narration of the Lord's speeches. Then in ver. 20 and 21, the Lord addresses himself to Abraham, which plainly appears from ver. 23; for, Abraham, understanding the intimation, in ver. 21, as a hint for him to intreat for the people of Sodom, began to plead in their favor; and ver. 22, is only introduced to acquaint us, that Abraham stood yet before the Lord when he spoke those words in ver. 21; so that ver. 22, ought to be put in a parenthesis, and not the five verses from ver. 17, to ver. 21, as the Rev. Mr. Bankes asserts.
The verb y, is often used, in Scripture, to express—to love, to regard, or to be gracious, but seldom to know a person. See ver. 21.
Ver. 21. The Hebrew word, means totally; and may either signify altogether, as the English translator renders it, or it may be construed a total destruction. I think the latter interpretation more natural; for, otherwise, God doth not declare what he would do in case he should find them all wicked; and perhaps Scripture chose this phrase to express both meanings.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XIX.
Ver. 1. These were the same two angels that left Abraham, not others; therefore the article the is necessary, as it is in the original Hebrew.
Ver. 22. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. This refers to ver. 20, where he saith, Is it not a little one?-which in Hebrew is yyn, mitshar; and the name of the city, in Hebrew, is
y, which is of the same root.
From the narrative contained in ver. 37, and 38, we learn that the Moabites and the children of Ammon sprang from Lot.
This chapter narrates, that Abraham removed from thence, meaning the plains of Mamre ; and, as Scripture, in the narration of events, doth not always follow the regular succession of them, unless specially expressed, and it came to pass after these things, &c. we are not obliged to place this removal after what Scripture had declared, in chap. xviii. ver. 17, that it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women: therefore the expression from thence refers to chap. xiii. ver. 18, but as the sacred writer in the said chapter, ver. 10, began the narrative of Lot, he also narrates the battle of the four kings; which likewise refers to Lot; he next
mentions the covenant with Abraham, and his taking Hagar, which perhaps succeeded it; and then returning to Lot's history, he closes it with the birth of his two sons; the events of this chapter are next narrated, thongh they very probably happened long before. Be it as it may, no reason is assigned for his removal; perhaps a famine in the land occasioned it, though it is not mentioned: and, going to sojourn among the Philistines at Gerar, he made Sarah, his wife, pass there for his sister; and the king, taking her to his bed, by a miraculous interposition of providence, was hindered from committing any sin with her; then complaining to Abraham of the deception practised on him, by telling him she was his sister, when she was his wife, and asking the reason why he did so, Abraham answered, that he was afraid of being killed on account of her, and that, in fact, she was his sister, his father's daughter, which means grand-daughter; for, she was the daughter of Haran, Terah's son, who was also Abraham's father, as in chap. xi. where she is known by the name of Iscah, as there observed. Ver. 16, contains a speech of Abimelech to Sarah, which is hardly intelligible; the best interpretation that can be given it, I think, is this: "I have given thy brother an hundred 'pieces of money; his being satisfied of your chastity removes all manner of suspicion concerning your virtue from every body's eyes :" to which she said nothing but blushed.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XXII.
Ver. 14. In the mountain. This most likely refers to the Shechinah, in the holy temple upon mount Zion, which is this very mountain. The word, DT, means, some day; vide Job, chap i. ver. 6, 13, and chap. ii. ver. 1. It can never mean, as the English translator renders it, as it is said to this day; for, this was not said till David's time: so that we are not obliged to allow that an interpolation was made in David's time, of these words, as Aben Ezra pretends. Vide also observations on Exodas, chap. xii. ver. 12 and 14. After this, Abraham receives advice of the several children that his brother had by Milcah, his wife Sarah's sister, among whom a grand-daughter is mentioned, called Rebekah, who afterwards became Isaac's wife.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XXIV.
A. M. 2086. Abraham, being now about one hundred and forty years old, and blessed with every thing he could wish for, and being free from cares; began to think about settling his son in marriage; for which purpose, he called his old trusty servant, and made him take an oath not to take a wife for his son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom he resided, but that he would go to his country and to his kindred, and take him a wife from thence. The circumstance, of putting his hand under his thigh, is a ceremony that, Aben Ezra saith, was in use in some parts of India in his time, which was nearly 600 years ago, and was meant as a sort of homage. I shall not enter minutely into the particulars of this narrative, it being sufficiently understood by the English translation; I may, however, observe, that, in ver. 7, Abraham, replying to an objection started by his servant, namely, in case the woman should not be willing to follow him, doth not positively assure him, that God would send his angel before him, as it appears from the English translation, but that he had reason to trust, from God's protection and kindness shewn to him, that he would do so; for, had it been a certain promise, the servant could not afterwards even suppose that she would refuse, as in ver. 8. Ver. 21. This means that the man felt a fluttering or tumult in his breast, arising from a doubt between hope and fear, whether he should be successful in his errand or not, agreeably to the token he had established to himself: for, the radix of the verb, here made use of, means a tumult, uproar, and noise, or rushing in, as of mighty waters, or of many nations. Vide Isaiah, chap. xvii. ver. 12 and 13.
Ver. 23, 24, 25. The dialogue, contained in these three verses, must certainly have passed before he made her any present, though narrated in verse 22, and so we find it in the repetition of this narrative in verse 47; therefore, verse 23 ought to begin, after he had said, &c. Ver. 30. A reason seems to be given here why Laban ran out to meet him, as mentioned in the foregoing verse.
Ver. 32. To understand this verse rightly, I conceive that the servant himself, or his man, ungirded the camels, and that Laban, or his men, gave straw and provender, &c.—and for which reason, the pronoun he should be omitted to “ungirded his camels," but placed to the next, "and he gave straw, &c." to signify, that the person understood by this pronoun as a nominative to this last verb, is not the same as that which is understood to be the nominative of the two former verbs.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XXV.
The Bishop of Clogher, in page 85 of his Chronology of the Hebrew Bible vindicated, is deceived in supposing that Abraham took Keturah during his stay at Haran, and that he had children by her there; for, in that case, he could not have lamented that he had no heir; and though, in chap. xii. ver. 5, it is said, "that Abram took Sarai, his wife, &e. and the souls they had gotten in Haran," this expression, of souls, probably means slaves there begotten or bought. Then after making a disposition of his effects, his death is narrated, he then being one hundred and seventy-five years old, A. M. 2121. Then follows another digression
from the general history, to inform us of the death of Ishmael, Abraham's son, being one hundred and thirty-seven years old, A. M. 2169. And, after mentioning the situation of the dwellings of his family, which was near Egypt, scripture observes, that their lot fell out to live near their brethren, meaning the Egyptians, as Hagar was of that nation, according to the prediction in chap. xvi. ver. 12, this being the true meaning of the Hebrew verb, 5, in verse 18. for, it is never used to express to die, as the English Bible renders it, except it is falling in battle; but it also signifieth the falling of one's lot in such a spot of ground for an inheritance or dwelling-place: and this I take to be the fulfilling of the prediction in chap. xvi. ver. 12, viz. "that he should dwell in the presence of all his brethren.”
Ver. 19. The above digressions being finished, Isaac's history is resumed back from his marriage, being A. M. 2086. and, after being twenty years married, he had two sons, Esau (who was also called Edom) and Jacob, A. M. 2106.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XXVI.
Now there was a famine in the land, and Scripture adds, besides the first famine, that was in the days of Abraham; by which it gives us to understand, that the reason of Abraham's going to Gerar, in chap. xx. was a famine, as is there observed; and, as Isaac was going to remove from the place where he was, perhaps with an intention to go to Egypt, the Lord appeared to him, to tell him not to go there, but to dwell in the place which he would shew him, giving that as a reason why he went to Gerar. So that the English translator is inaccurate in marking a new section in ver. 2, which contains only a reason for his conduct in ver. 1. but ver. 3 is a new subject, and ought to be noticed by a paragraph at the beginning of the verse, to mark the new section where it properly belongs; for, this I take to be another prophecy, spoken when he arrived at Gerar. It may also be understood, that the Lord appeared unto him in Gerar, and told him not to go down into Egypt, for that he should sojourn only in such a country as the Lord should direct him to; so he tells him in ver. 3, to stay where he was. However, I think the first interpretation is more natural.
is a double plural, from, between, meaning, "between us of both parties;" is a simple plural, and means,"" between us on the one part."
I have only to remark here, that verse 40, might be rendered, "And it shall come to pass, when thou shalt cry unto the Lord, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck;" as this verb, sometimes means to cry. Vide Psalm lv. ver. 2.
Ver. 10. Here follows a description of a prophetic and emblematic dream, which Jacob had as he laid himself down to sleep in a certain place on his way to Haran, when night overtook him: on which I shall observe, that this emblem shews us in what manner God's will is communicated to men progressively, from a superior intellect to another of less degree, till at last it comes to one that is more similar to our spiritual faculties, whence it is conveyed
to our senses.
Ver. 15. The adverb, until, has two meanings in Hebrew. Sometimes it limits the period, and goes no farther; and sometimes it doth not cease with the period mentioned, but goes beyond it: now in this place it has the latter acceptation, meaning that he will not leave him until he has done what he has promised him, nor even then, but that he will continue to protect him; for, we always stand in need of God's protection.
OBSERVATIONS ON CHAP. XXIX.
Ver. 1. There is something uncommon in the Hebrew expression used at the beginning of this narrative. The meaning is certainly as translated in the English Bible, but the words are:" And Jacob lifted up his feet, and walked into the land of the children of the east.” suppose it is meant to make a variation in the expression.
Ver. 2. The translation of this verse should be rendered thus :-" And, lo, there were three droves of sheep lying by it; for, out of that well the shepherds watered the droves." The word shepherds here added, may be very well supposed to be understood, when droves are mentioned; (for, this is the meaning of the Hebrew word, vide chap. xxxii. ver. 16.) It is easy to conceive a shepherd to every drove, and I cannot think that to be a sufficient reason for supposing an error in the Hebrew copy, as Dr. Wright will have it, this being a figure in rhetoric used by many profane writers; but, according to Dr. Wright's supposition, this error must have been committed several times, viz. in the second, third, and eighth verses. Besides, the words, lying by it, which scripture adds to it, prove that droves is the right reading. And Dr. Wright, finding this to be an objection to his emendation, since that must mean the flocks, and not the shepherds, saith, "that, in Isaiah, chap, xiií. ver. 20, lying is applied