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Concerning the Purport of the second Miracle.
But there was certainly a farther meaning, and a circumstance of more consequence intimated, though the people at that time might not apprehend it. In the history of this operation, as well as in that of the brazen serpent, mentioned above, we have pointed out to us the Redeemer, that good physician, that benign human divinity, who was to heal us from all deadly infection, restore us to life, and cleanse us from every impurity. That this was the thing ultimately signified, we may perceive by what immediately follows. For Moses was ordered to put his hand into his bosom; and he did so when upon taking it out again, it was found foul and loathsome, being infected with leprosy and white as snow. He was directed to put it into his bosom a second time; and when he drew it out, it appeared pure and wholesome; all taint and infection were cleansed away. From hence I should judge, that these miraculous representations had a covert meaning: and that they did not relate to the Israelites only and their deliverance from bondage; but to the
redemption of the whole world; and to the means by which it is to be effected. In short, there are three things presented to our view-the deity, the disease, and the cure. However concise the history, the meaning cannot be mistaken.
Of the Miracle to be renewed.
It was farther enjoined to Moses, that, when he came among his people, he should act over again what he had now done, with his rod, and with his hand; and the same consequences were to follow. Each sign was to be precisely repeated for the conviction of the Is raelites. And the Lord gave him this assurance--Exodus, chap. iv. ver. 8. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign.
V. 9. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, (of the rod, and of his hand) neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry-land; and the water, which thou takest out of the river, shall become blood
upon the dry-land. Thus we find, that the whole of this mystery was to conclude in blood.
Of Moses an Oracle, and a reputed Divinity.
Moses heard all these assurances in respect both to Pharaoh and the Israelites; yet a diffidence of himself was still predominant; and he could not help uttering his unnecessary fears. Exod. iv. 10. And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant; but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.
V. 11. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?
It is said, that the Lord was displeased with this backwardness; yet, in compassion to human weakness, he condescended to assure him of farther assistance. That he would influence Aaron, his brother, who should certainly come with joy to meet him on his approach towards Egypt.
V. 15. And thou shalt speak unto him, and
put words in his mouth; and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.
V. 16. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be unto him instead of God.
By this is meant, that Moses should be like a divine oracle; whose responses were disclosed by his priest, or prophet. He was, as a divinity, to suggest, and another was to declare his purpose. But the first suggestion was to come from God; by whom Moses himself was to be originally inspired.--- Thou shalt speak unto him, (thy brother) and put words in his mouth. But antecedently to this---I will put words in thy mouth. Thus Moses was made the oracle of God. This is very remarkable; for we find, that among the Egyptians he was stiled Alpha, or more properly Alphi, which signifies the mouth or oracle of God. We are indebted to Ptolemy Hephestion for this
1 Exodus iv. 15.
Vox Dei. This circumstance I have mentioned in a former treatise: but it is so necessary to the present
purpose, that I am obliged to introduce it again.
Apud Photium, p. 485. sect. exc.
intelligence; who however, not knowing the purport of the name, has done every thing in his power to ruin the history. He would interpret a foreign term by a Grecian etymology; and supposes it to be derived from aλpos, alphos, vitiligo. From hence he would insinuate, that Moses was infected with leprosy. If the prophet had been the least tainted with such a disorder, he must have been in no fit condition for such an embassy; as he would have had little chance of gaining access to Pharaoh, or being admitted to the elders of his own people. Let it then suffice, that---' Moons, o των Εβραίων Νομοθετης Αλφα εκαλείτο : Moses, the lawgiver of the Hebrews, was called (among the Egyptians) Alpha. Let us see, what was the purport of the title among the people, from whence he came; or at least those of their neighbourhood, who were connected with them. The Phenicians came originally from Egypt; and carried with them much of the religion of that country. We accordingly are told,---Αλφα, βες, * κεφάλη Φοινικες. Among
Apud Photium, p. 485. Sect. cxc.
Hesychius. So it is altered by the learned Bochart. Originally it stood--aλpæ Coos xiqán. Geog. Sacra. 1. 2. P. 738.