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Continuation of the Divine Interview, and an Account of the Two Miracles exhibited:
Many events are laid open to the legate of God; and many promises are made to give him fortitude for the undertaking. But for a long time during this interview he hesitates, and is alarmed at the difficulties which presented themselves. It may seem strange, after such immediate assurances from God, that Moses should persist in his diffidence. He ought certainly to have trusted to the words of him, who cannot deceive; and paid implicit obedience. But human nature is frail. His zeal had been damped by disappointments, and his faith ruined by his fears. He knew that his life was forfeited, if he returned to Egypt; and he moreover felt a want of ability to effect what was enjoined him. Hence, though he knew the power of the Almighty, yet he could not sufficiently exert himself upon the occasion. He was like a person upon a precipice, who is ordered to throw himself down upon a promise of being supported; but though the assurance be from
See Diodorus Sic. 1. 1. p. 70. quoted above.
the voice of an angel, he cannot trust himself to the dreadful vacuity. It must likewise be considered, that he had formed some interesting connections, which though they may appear comparatively new, were in reality of long standing. He had been admitted for a long season into a family of morality and goodness; where he enjoyed ease and security. He had married a wife, with whom he was quite happy, and had a son by her. This peace and these connections were to be interrupted for the sake of a people who had betrayed him; and 'from whom he had been estranged for forty years. He could not bring himself to have any trust in them.
Behold, says he, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice; for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee. His reasoning was just; for he was to go to a perverse and stubborn people: and, as I mentioned before, if he could not persuade them of old, he must necessarily have little influence after an absence of so long a date. In short, he had not power to execute such a mission, 'nor inclination to undertake it. His credentials therefore and authority could not pro
1 Exod. iv. 1.
ceed from himself; but must be derived from an higher power. It therefore pleased God, in order to create in him a proper faith and assurance, to display before his eyes a miracle of an extraordinary nature. --And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? and he said, A rod.
Ver. 3. And he said, Cast it on the ground; and he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.
V. 4. And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand.
This was an assurance to Moses, that the same power which could work such a wonder for his conviction, would do the like to convince his people hereafter; and that a sure trust might be reposed in his promises.
V. 6. And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom; and he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold his hand was leprous as snow.
V. 7. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again; and he put his hand into his bosom again, and plucked it out of his bosom, and behold it was turned again as his other flesh.
Exod. iv. 2.
First, concerning the Symbolical Serpent.
The Egyptians, and likewise the Phenicians, who borrowed from them, made the serpent an emblem of divine wisdom and power; also of that creative energy, by which all things were formed. It was supposed to have been first adopted for this sacred purpose by Thoth of Egypt; whom the people of Phenicia stiled Taut, and Taautus. There was nothing criminal in forming such a characteristic, if it were not misapplied, and made use of for idolatrous purposes. But emblems of this sort were in process of time abused; and gave rise to a base worship; which prevailed over all the world. In many places, not only in Egypt, but in Greece and other countries, the natives preserved a live serpent; sometimes more than one; to which they paid divine honours. Hence Justin Martyr, in speaking upon this head to the Grecians, tells them--- παρα παντι των νομιζόμενων παρ
* Την μήν ουν Δρακοντος φυσιν καί των όφιων αυτός εξέθειασεν ὁ Τααυτος. ίδιο και εν μέροις τετο ζωον, και εν μυτηρίοις συμπαρείληπα Philo Byblius from Sanchoniath. apud Eusebium P. E. 1. 1. c. x. p. 40, 41.
* Apolog. 1. p. 60. see Clemens Alexand. Cohort. p. 11. P
ὑμῖν Θεῷ, οι Θεων, Οφις συμβολον μέγα και μυς GIOV AVAYÇAPETAI.---Among all the things, which are held by you as sacred and divine, the serpent is particularly marked as a wonderful emblem and mystery. Two such were kept alive at Thebes in Upper Egypt---' και τετοις (τοις Οφεσιν) θυσίας, και έορτας, επετελουν, και οργια, θεάς τες μεγίσες νομίσαντες, και αρχηγός των όλων---and to these serpents the people appointed a celebration of sacrifices, also festivals, and orgies; esteeming them the greatest of all gods, and sovereigns of the universe. Many salutary qualities and effects were supposed to have been denoted by this emblem, particularly life, health, and victory, also the Being by which they were produced. It made a principal part in most rites and mysteries; and there were undoubtedly some very curious truths veiled under this characteristic. It was carried from Egypt to Thrace and Greece; and, according to the current opinion, by Orpheus. Hence Tatianus Assyrius, speaking of the rites of Ceres, mentions Eleusis, where they were celebrated; also the mystic serpent, which was a principal object; and Orpheus, by whom they were
'Euseb. P. E. 1. 1. c. x. p. 42.
2 Ελευσίς, και ο Δράκων, ὁ μυσικος, και Ορφεος. p. 251,