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an attribute, and described the cause of all things by his self-existence. He mentions farther', that the different manner of expressing the term, which was both O, and N,, amounted to little; as both were equally apposite. 'O μεν γαρ Μωυσης ὁ ων εφη, ὁ δὲ Πλατων το ον· έκαó τερον δε των ειρημένων τῳ αει οντι Θεῷ προσήκειν Φαίνεται. For Moses expresses the word wv, and Plato To ov: but each of the terms appear to be truly applicable to the living God, who alone may be said to exist. Eusebius, Cyril, Augustine, and many other writers suppose, that Plato got his intelligence in Egypt: and I think there can be no doubt of it. But they go farther, and think, that he obtained it from the history of Moses; which does not appear probable. They seem all to have imagined, that he got his information from the words Ey esperov, I am He that is, i. e. the living God: which is a portion from the Greek of the Septuagint. But they did not consider, that this version was not made till after the death of Plato. He could not have had any light from hence. In short he borrowed his knowledge of the term O, from the same fountain from whence the authors of the Septuagint afterwards borrowed; which was from the natives Just. Martyr. Cohort. p. 23. c.
of Egypt. He resided three years at Heliopolis, the very place called On, or City of the Sun and was very conversant with the priests of the place, the most intelligent of any in the whole 'nation. He could not fail of learning the purport of the name; and was certainly informed, that the city of On was denominated from the self-existent being; and that the temple of On was properly the sanctuary of the living God, though the title was abused, and conferred upon Osiris, the Sun. Hence Plato, in his Inquiry concerning the Nature of the Supreme Being, asks, Ti TO OV μev all; Τι το Ον μεν αει; γενεσιν δε εκ εχον. Explain to me that deity On, which ever IS, and who never knew beginning nor production? In this, and all other instances to the same purpose, he alludes to the Egyptian term, which signified life and being.
A farther Consideration.
It may be proper to remark, that, when Moses was directed to make known to the Is
'The people of Heliopolis were particularly famous for their knowledge. Οι Ηλιοπολίται Αιγυπτιων λογιωτατοι. Herod. 1. 2. c. 3. p. 104.
? In Timæo, vol. 3. p. 27.
raelites the One true God under the character of I am, or the Being of Life, the original word is. This was a new title, by which the deity chose to be distinguished. It is to be observed, that there is very little difference between this, and the more common name ; the sacred tetragrammaton' of the Jews. The one was, Jehovah; and the other newly appointed • 778, which some express Jehevah. How truly it is rendered, I cannot pretend to determine. This, I believe, is allowed, that
,הוה or היה,the latter is formed from the root
hejah or hevah: by which is signified to exist, live, and be. Some think, that by Jehovah is meant I am; and by Jehevah or Ehiah (as some render it) I will be. It is accordingly translated by some expositors in the future--ero, qui ero; and both by Aquila and Theodotion, Εσσομαι, Εσσομαι. We may at all rates be assured, that they both relate to life and existence; and cannot properly be applied to any Being, but one, Thou, whose name alone is Jehovah--* Ο Ων, ερχόμενος.
* Exodus, ch. iii. 14.
ην, και ὁ
* Chap. iii. 14.
Apocalyps, ch. i. ver. 4.
Conclusion upon this Head,
We may therefore, I think, be assured of the true purport of that Egyptian title of the deity, which the Grecians expressed O, and Sv. By On' was signified life and being and by the deity of On (One) was denoted the living God; the truly existing Being. This title was grossly misapplied by the Egyptians: upon which account the real and only God. is represented as inforcing this truth upon his people, that there was no deity but himself. He is therefore repeatedly styled, in opposition to all pretended divinities, The Living God. In consequence of this we continually meet with this asseveration---As I live, saith the Lord. Hence Moses was ordered, when he made mention of the deity to the Israelites, to use the title above mentioned---I am that I
1 A very learned friend thought that the term On could not relate to life and being; because the city of On, in the Coptic version, has not the final aspirate: which the same word, when it signifies life or to live, has. But a variation so very slight between a primary word, and a derivative, might easily happen in such a length of time.
The difference is too small to have any objection founded upon it, especially as all the Grecian authors, who speak of the Egyptian term On, always refer it to life and being.
am: 1 AM hath sent me unto you: which answers precisely to Еyw siμ to Ov of the Grecians; and to the sacred title wn2, of Egypt. By this, in other words, is signified, Let the children of Israel know, that you come from the only true and self-existent Being: from the living God, who was, and is, and will be for ever. This was a character to which no other being could pretend. Moses is further ordered to say to the Israelites--- The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this
is my name for ever. This is the deity who styles himself I AM; the living God, the Jehovah of the Hebrews. The prophet proceeds to intimate, that the divinities of Egypt had no claim to so high a title; and they would therefore fall before the God of Israel: and for this he had good assurance---* Against all the Gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I AM THE LORD. These expressions are attended with peculiar energy, but without this explanation they seem to lose great part of their emphasis.