Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

Scythæ, hodie Tartari obtinent," which formerly the Scythians inhabited, and now the Tartars. From these quotations, and numerous others that might be made, it is evident that the northern nations of the Eastern Continent were descendants of Japheth. In reference to the number of his descendants, as composing the northern nations, Newton remarks, (Diss. on Prophecy, p. 13), “The northern hive (as Sir William Temple denominates it) was always remarkable for its fecundity, and bath been continually pouring forth swarms, and sending out colonies into the more southern parts, both in Europe and in Asia, both in former and in latter times.'

From these remarks, it is sutiiciently evident that the dispersion of mankind was revealed to Noah. It now remains to be shown that this revelation was made to him prior to the confusion of tongues. The obvious fact that the established or admitted dates in Biblical chronology place the prophecy of Noah (Gen. 9: 27) a few years earlier than the confusion of tongues, will not be allowed, by any reflecting mind, to have much weight on this subject. But so far as it has any weight, it supports the position here assumed. When we consider the circumstances under which the prophecy of Noah was uitered by him, it will be easy to suppose that he spoke what he had known for a period of time previous to the scene which immediately preceded its announcement. (Gen 9: 20—24.) If it is reasonable to suppose that Noah was not inspired to foretell the dispersion of mankind while intoxicated or immediately after, then it will be necessary to go further back for the time, when God revealed to him the destination of the sons of Japheth on the earth. To what time, then, shall we look ? We answer, to a period before the deluge. The reason for referring to so early a period is, that the names Japheth and Ham accord precisely with their destination in the dispersion. That this fact may be appreciated, and not regarded as a casual incident, having no reference to the subject, it may be well to consider its bearing. The first human being was called Adam. Josephus says: “This man was called Adam, which in the Hebrew tongue signifies one that is 'red, because he was formed out of red earth compounded together.” But a more simple reason for this name, it appears to us, was the skin-color of the man. The word

Adam means red, ruddy, the color of the human skin in high health.

Gesenius says: "Adâm, 1, a man, a human being, male or female, pp. red, ruddy, as it would seem. The Arabs distinguish two races of men; one red, ruddy, which we call white; the other black.The potentia primaria, or primary force of this word is ruddy ; and it is applied, according to Gesenius, to distinguish man by the color of his skin. The first human female was called Eve, which signifies life. The reason why this name was given, we are informed, was, " because she was the mother of all living." These two names give 113 a key to a principle that was very generally, if not universally observed, in the first ages of the world, in giving names.

The name often denoted some circumstance connected with the parent or child, which was regarded worthy of commemoration. Gesenius derives the word Cain from a word which signifies "lance, as the weapon of murder." After the death of Abel, another son was born to Adam and Eve—and he was called Seth, which means to place, replace, compensate. As Abel was taken away, his place was filled by another; and this one, in a measure, compensated for the loss of the other. This agrees well with the saying of the afflicted mother: "For God," said she, " hath appointed me another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew” (Gen. 4 : 25). Noah means rest, comfort. While the inhabitants of the earth were destroyed by the flood, he and his family found rest in the ark. Before the deluge, Noah had three sons, whom he named Shein, Ham and Japheth (Gen. 5: 32). The name Japheth has already been considered; it may not be improper, however, to add the following remarks of Gesenius. "Japheth, the second son of Noah, Gen. 5 : 32, 7: 13, 9:18, sq., whose posterity are described as occupying chiefly the western and northern regions ; Gea. 10 : 2–5. This accords well with the etymology of the name, which signifies widely spreading.Gesenius does not fail to observe the connection between the meaning of Japheth, and the destination of his posterity when scattered through the earth in after time. Ham means warm, hot, and is applied to bread just baked (Joshua 9: 12). a son of Noah,” says Gesenius, “whose posterity are described in Gen. 10: 6—20, as occupying the southern

Ham,

most regions of the known earth, thus according aptly with his name, i. e., warm, hot.” It is obvious enough, that, unless the coincidence of destination among the descendants of Ham with the signification of that name was entirely casual-and hence, the principle here noticed of assigning names wholly fanciful, at least, in the case of Ham and Japheth, (in whose case the connection seems most intimate,) it indubitably follows, that the idea of dispersion must have been known to Noah at the time he gave names to his sons. If this reasoning is correct, we discover the truth that dispersion was an idea which had been in the world a long time before the flood—and entered into and underlaid a great system of events that was to affect all ages and nations subsequent to the confusion of tongues. Indeed, the first command of God to the new created pair, was: “Be fruitful and multiply, and replen. ish the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1 : 28). The first command of God to man reveals his design in creating the human race, that he should fill the earth. This original command was in danger of being left unfulilled, in the protracted life of men, through the influence of the ties of blood and the power of association. Hence, the work of dispersion was consummated after the re-development of this primal command by a gradual increase of light upon the subject, as the time drew near.

1. The names assigned to the sons of Noah intimated the coming event. 2. The prophecy of Noah more authoritatively declared it.

III. We come now to speak of another accession to the previous light on this point.

"And unto Eber were born two sons; the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided” (Gen. 10 : 25). The reason for giving this name (Peleg) is assigned in the passage itself, in which the name occurs. The word Peleg means division, part ; and was given to the son of Eber, because "in his days was the earth divided.” A respectable writer in the Biblical Repository, a few years since, undertook to show, (if we remember rightly—for we have not the number at hand, that the division of the earth in the days of Peleg had reference to the natural divisions of the earth's surface into land and water. Without attempting a refutation of that writer's arguments, we are constrained to take a different view of

the subject. That the noun peleg, and the verb pálăg, from which it is derived, are applied to physical objects, like streams of water, is very evident. But it seems unwarrantable to ivfer hence, that the word is applied only to natural objects—as rivers, oceans, etc.

The verb pas lăg means to cleuve, to divide. The same is true of the biliteral root pal, which implies separation. Although the verb pâlag and the noun peleg are often applied to natural divisions; and hence, the first definition of peleg in Gesenius is a brook, a stream ; still, like all other words, they may have a metaphorical usage, as in Ps. 55 : 10, (Bib. Heb., but the 9th verse in the English Bible,)“ Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues.” To "divide their tongues” was to cause dissension among the inhabitants. This is one example of using the word pålag metaphorically. Another example is Is. 30 : 25. " And there shall be upon every high mountain, and upon every high hill, rivers and streams of waters in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall."

“Rivers and streams of water," says Dr. Scott, "are not commonly found on the tops of high mountains; but the emblem implies that abundant means of grace, accom. panied by the influences of the Holy Spirit, would be vouchsafed to those places which had been most destitute of them, and where they were least expected ; and to every one of thein.” These examples of the metaphorical use of peleg show the easy transition, in Hebrew words, from the literal to the figurative. Hence, when the connection evidently requires a metaphorical sense, it is fatal to the meaning of the passage to render it literally. The following remarks are submitted, to show that the connection requires peleg to be rendered figuratively, denoting the dispersion of mankind, and not natural divisions of land and water. The division of the earth into land and water was effected at the first (Gen. 1:9); and although the deluge, and other more permanent causes may have produced relative changes on the earth's surface, it seems preposterous to suppose that any such gen.. eral convulsion has occurred since the deluge as to rive one continent of land from another, and to roll an ocean between them; and this, too, with only the slight reference to that stupendous event, recorded in the passage under consideration (Gen. 10 : 25). A more simple view VOL. XIII. —NO. LII.

44*

of the passage is, that the term earth denotes the inhabitants, as in Gen. 11:1. " And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech." And in Gen. 10:32 we have what may be regarded an exegesis of Gen. 10 : 25. “ These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generation in their nations; and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.” That the division of the earth in the days of Peleg had reference to the dispersion of mankind, is evident from the fact that the descendants of Joktan, the brother of Peleg, are immediately enumerated; and it is expressly declared that by them and others 6 were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.” “All these were the sons of Joktan. And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar, a mount of the east. These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations. These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations; and by these were the nations divided in the earth” (Gen. 10 : 29-32).

IV. 'We come now to speak of the design of the dispersion. The reason assigned for rearing a tower of immense magnitude and height on the plain of Shinar was, “ Lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth (Gen. 11:4). This act might have been induced by the increasing light shed on dispersion, and the exciting fears among some, that the event foretold might transpire. Whatever else was associated with the design of building the tower, the only reason given, was, to prevent dispersion. Viewed from this point, we can see the necessity of the cessation of an enterprise so well adapted to prevent, or at least, to postpone to a distant day, a work of God, the time for the accomplishment of which had already fully come. Accordingly we read of the purpose of God to bring the enterprise immediately to an end. “And the Lord said, behold, the people are one, and they have all one language, and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do(Gen. 11:6). This language, as we have already remarked, implied the practicability of the scheme of building the tower; and it may be added, that it seems to imply the fitness of that scheme to prevent dispersion. The construction of so extensive a work

« EdellinenJatka »