THE FOUR LAST BOOKS OF MOSES
ARRANGED IN THE FORM OF A HARMONY, WITH COMMENTARIES
1. Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt: every man and his household came with Jacob.
1. Haec sunt nomina filiorum Israel qui venerunt in Aegyptum cum Jahacob: quisque cum familia sua venit.
2. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,
2. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, et Jehudah,
3. Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,
3. Issachar, Zabulon, et Benjamin,
4. Dan, Nephthali, Gad, et Asser.
4. Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
5. And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.
5. Fuerunt autem omnes animae egressae ex femore Jahacob, septuaginta animae, Joseph autem crat in Aegypto.
6. And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.
6. Mortuus vero est Joseph, et omnes fratres eius, et tota aetas illa.
7. And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
7. Porto creverunt filii Israel, et aucti sunt, et multiplicati et roborati quamplurimum; adeo ut plena ipsis esset terra.
"as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore." (Genesis 22:17.)
This, then, is the commencement of the book, -- that although their going down from the land of Canaan into Egypt might have seemed at the time as it were the end and abolition of God's covenant, yet in his own time he abundantly accomplished what he had promised to his servant as to the increase of his descendants. However, he only mentions by name the twelve patriarchs who went down with their father Jacob, and then sums up the whole number of persons, as in two other passages. (Genesis 46:27, and Deuteronomy 10:22.) The calculation is perfectly accurate, if Jacob is counted among the thirty and six souls in the first catalogue. For it is a far-fetched addition of the Rabbins 1 to count in Jochebed the mother of Moses, to complete the number; and it is not probable that a woman, who was afterwards born in Egypt, should be reckoned among the men whom Jacob brought with him. If any object that the seventy are said to have "come out of the loins of Jacob," the discrepancy is easily explained by the common scriptural use of the figure synecdoche 2 That he from whom the others sprung is not excluded, we gather from the words of Moses, (Deuteronomy 10:22,)
"Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the Lord thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude."
But there is no reason to add five more, as we read in the address of Stephen recorded by Luke, (Acts 7:14;) for we cannot be surprised that in this mode of expressing numbers this error should have occurred by the introduction of a single letter. Should any objector make this an handle for controversy, we should remember that the Spirit, by the mouth of Paul, does not warn us without purpose
"not to give heed to genealogies." (1 Timothy 1:4.)
Let us conclude, then, that since Moses does not here speak of the natural course of human procreation, but celebrates a miracle unheard of before, by which God ratified the truth of his promise, we should judge of it perversely, and maliciously, if we measure it by our own feeble reason, instead of meditating with reverence upon what far transcends all our senses. Let us rather remember how God reproves his unbelieving people by the Prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 51:1) For, in order to prove that it would not be difficult for Him, in spite of the small number to which the Israelites were reduced, to produce a great multitude, He bids them look into "the hole of the pit from whence they were digged," viz., to Abraham, and Sarah that bare them, whom he multiplied though alone, and childless. Certain Rabbins, after their custom, imagine that four infants were produced at a birth; for as often as they meet with any point which perplexes them, they gratuitously invent whatever suits them, and then obtrude their imaginations as indubitable facts; and proceed foolishly, and unseasonably, to discuss that this is physically probable. There are Christians, too, who, with little consideration, have imitated them here, contending that what Moses describes is in accordance with experience, because the fecundity of certain nations has been almost as great. We indeed sometimes see confirmed by remarkable examples what the Psalmist says, (Psalm 107:36,) that God "maketh the hungry to dwell" in the wilderness, "that they may prepare a city for habitation, and sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase; and he blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly;" as also, that "He turneth a fruitful land into barrenness," and strips it of inhabitants; but the design of Moses is to shew, that there never was any fecundity, which was not inferior to the increase of the people of Israel. Hence his comparison between the seventy souls, and the multitude which proceeded from them, that this special blessing of God might be distinguished from ordinary cases; hence too the accumulated expressions, which undoubtedly are meant for amplification, that "they were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them." For the repetition of the adverb, Meod, Meod, marks an unusual abundance, Nor do I reject the conjecture of some, that in the word
1 It may he noticed, once for all, that Calvin's references to Rabbinical expositions of supposed difficulties are generally references to what Sebastian Munster had inserted at the close of each chapter of his version of the Old Testament, which is described as follows in the title-page to its second edition, Basle, 1546: -- "En tibi Lector Hebraica Biblia, Latina planeque nova Sebast. Munsteri tralatione, post omnes omnium hactenus ubivis gentium editiones evulgata, et quoad fieri potuit Hebraicae veritati conformata: adjectis insuper e Rabbinorum commentariis annotationibus." The notion that Jochebed was included in the enumeration, is mentioned by S.M. in the annotations on Genesis 46:27. In that verse, as given in our authorized version, which came must be understood to agree with house, the Hebrew being
2 The French translation thus explains this figure: "de prendre le tout pour une partie, ou une partie pour le tout," -- to take the whole for a part, or a part for the whole.
4 French, "un monstre incroyable:" an incredible prodigy.
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